Current News

Subscribe to Current News feed
Updated: 2 hours 4 min ago

NYC TWU 100 Transit workers want answers after fatal fall as MTA upgrades subway safety Fiberglass railings are being installed after St. Clair Richards-Stephens' death.

Thu, 03/22/2018 - 08:00

NYC TWU 100 Transit workers want answers after fatal fall as MTA upgrades subway safety
Fiberglass railings are being installed after St. Clair Richards-Stephens' death.
https://www.amny.com/transit/mta-fare-toll-hike-1.17583076

After MTA worker St. Clair Richards-Stephens died when he fell inside a Harlem subway tunnel Tuesday, the transit group Progressive Action held vigil and spoke out about safety concerns. Photo Credit: Marisol Diaz-Gordon

By Vincent Barone and Matthew Chayes
vin.barone@amny.com, matthew.chayes@newsday.com @vinbarone
Updated March 22, 2018 6:11 AM
PRINT SHARE
The MTA has begun taking steps to prevent the tragic death of track worker St. Clair Richards-Stephens from happening again, agency brass said Wednesday, hours before transit workers gathered to memorialize his life and seek answers.

A protective wooden railing snapped early Tuesday morning, leading to Richards-Stephens’ fatal fall from the upper-level tracks of the 6 line to the lower-level express track for 4 and 5 trains at the 125th Street station.

NYC Transit president Andy Byford said crews worked overnight to replace the damaged railing with a fiberglass equivalent. Fiberglass railings were also installed along “a number of other locations” on the same lines, and the MTA is currently surveying other areas to make the same changes, Byford added.

“The location in question had wooden railings. There were two railings: One about waist-high and one a bit lower that were protecting this drop from the higher to the lower level, or were ostensibly there to do that,” Byford said. “For whatever reason yet to be established, the rail did not manage to restrain our member of staff when it appears that he leaned on that (the railing).”

Later Wednesday afternoon, dozens of current and retired transit workers marched from the 125th Street 4/5/6 mezzanine in Harlem to the downtown platform, where they lit a candle, prayed and sung to honor Richards-Stephens.

Tramell Thompson, a conductor who works mostly on the Q train, criticized the Transport Workers Union leadership for what he sees as insufficient focus on worker safety and too much coziness with the governor.

“The MTA is responsible for his death. Cuomo is responsible for his death,” Thompson said after crouching to light a memorial candle.

“SAFETY OVER PROFITS” read one sign held at the vigil. “R.I.P. OUR BROTHER” read another.

TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano met with the Richards-Stephens’ family Wednesday to provide consolation and offer the support of the union.

“These guys are playing politics with this young man’s tragic death,” Utano said. “It’s just horrible and disgraceful. This isn’t a time for politics. It’s time to help plan a funeral and make sure the family is taken care of.”

When he fell, Richards-Stephens was in the process of what’s known among workers as “clearing up,” or the act of moving off the tracks and out of the right of way of an oncoming train, a union source said.

An investigation into the incident is still ongoing, said MTA chairman Joseph Lhota, who held a moment of silence for Richards-Stephens at the beginning of Wednesday’s board meeting.

“I can’t overemphasize enough the amount of work and the amount of strenuous work that all of our transit workers do day in and day out,” Lhota said. “And, as Tony Utano, the president of the union said, while we sleep at night thousands of transit workers are down in the system making sure it’s prepared and getting it to a better and better state of reliability.”

Byford met Tuesday with the family of Richards-Stephens, 23, who began working for the authority about six months ago. The Transit president said he arranged for a staffer to organize Richards-Stephens’ benefits for his family, to streamline the process during the difficult time. He also gave the family a direct line to reach his office.

“The one thing I do not want is that family, you know, encountering NYCT bureaucracy,” Byford said.

Ronald Limage, 39, of the Bronx, brought his wife and kids and a bouquet to the vigil, even though he didn’t know Richards-Stephens.

“This type of thing could happen to any one of us,” said Limage, an afternoon conductor on the 1, 2 and 5 lines. “I see a lot of people on the tracks all the time. I say ‘what’s up’ to them. They’re like family.”

Eric Josephson, 66, a retired track worker and inspector who left the job in 2013 after nearly 30 years with the MTA, said: “It’s a shame and a crime the way that this newly hired brother was pretty much sacrificed to keep the trains running.”

By Vincent Barone and Matthew Chayes
vin.barone@amny.com, matthew.chayes@newsday.com @vinbarone

Tags: TWU 100NYC Metrohealth and safetydeath on the job
Categories: Labor News

India Bengaluru metro strike: Employees say stir on till 3 demands are met

Sun, 03/18/2018 - 13:27

India Bengaluru metro strike: Employees say stir on till 3 demands are met
http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/2018/mar/15/bengaluru-m...

By Express News Service | Published: 15th March 2018 07:08 AM |
Last Updated: 15th March 2018 07:08 AM | A+A A- |

Bengaluru Metro image used for representation
BENGA

LURU: The first round of talks held by the management of the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited and employee representatives at Baiyappanahalli depot on Wednesday in connection with the proposed indefinite strike from March 22, ended in a stalemate. While the management agreed to sort out their grievances within three months, employees were particular that until three of the main demands were met by March 21, the strike plan will be carried out as planned.

Top officials of the operations and maintenance department including its executive director A S Shankar met two representatives from each of the five departments under its fold — traction, signalling, telecommunications, P-way and civil structure works. The employees were members of the Union, but not on its board.

“Recognition of the Bangalore Metro Rail Employees Union by the management, payment of perks and allowances on the lines of other Metro networks and implementation of the Third Pay Revision Committee were the three chief demands,” said a Metro employee. This was in response to BMRCL officials asking them to call off the proposed strike. “BMRCL wanted three months time to look into the grievances,” a source said.

It is also learnt that Metro officials also held talks with BEML and ROTEM officials — both involved in readying the coaches.

Employee split deepens

Reliable sources also told The New Indian Express that repeated threats by the management on usage of ESMA on striking employees has worried many of them now. “Almost 40 percent of the 900 who initially wanted to take part in the strike are now backing out, “ the source said. A Union representative denied this and said, “Most employees are backing the strike.”

BMRCL will also be holding its first round of talks with the backup Train Operators on Thursday morning.

Tags: India Metro WorkersStrike Bangelore Metro Railway Corporation
Categories: Labor News

Virtual reality horror ride could help train actual railway workers

Sat, 03/10/2018 - 19:24

Virtual reality horror ride could help train actual railway workers
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201803110005.html
By ODAKA CHIBA/ Staff Writer
March 11, 2018 at 07:10 JST

Wearing VR headsets, riders prepare for a horror-filled ride at the Toshimaen amusement park in Tokyo. (Odaka Chiba)

The Seibu Group has devised two virtual-reality (VR) projects with entirely different purposes. One is to scare the pants off train riders. The other is to ensure that passengers never have to experience such frights.

The group’s Toshimaen amusement park in Tokyo’s Nerima Ward has converted its haunted house into an attraction called “Onryo Haisen VR” (Vengeful spirit, deserted railroad VR).

The VR experience of the ride not only spooks the visitors, but it can also help to train Seibu Railway Co. workers to prevent and deal with rail accidents in real life.

The attraction opened in December and will run until April. On holidays, people have waited in line for more than an hour for the ride.

Wearing special headsets that immerse them in a 360-degree VR world, the riders experience a scenario in which they are railway workers dispatched to inspect a deserted railroad on a creepy night.

As the self-driving vehicle moves ahead on the railroad, the riders enter a world of horrors. An old woman suddenly appears sitting beside them. Disembodied hands reach out to grab them.

The riders are supposed to report distortions in the shape of the tracks. They can get rid of ghosts and other monsters by shining their headlights on them.

“The VR technology enabled us to add a new dimension to the existing facility beyond the physical restrictions of the building,” said Shinji Nakamura, chief of the park operator’s business planning division.

Seibu Railway also plans to use the VR technology in the horror ride for maintenance and repairs on its real trains and tracks.

The company has trained workers to find problems by purposely introducing glitches in safety devices and equipment at its railyard.

But the company obviously cannot create such malfunctions on its operational lines, making it difficult to prepare the workers for accidents in real-life situations.

The VR technology allows the company to safely create abnormal circumstances, such as the warped tracks seen in the horror ride.

The idea for using VR technologies for training surfaced around June last year.

Seibu Railway plans to verify the accuracy of the VR images and movements for the maintenance training. It may use the reactions of the riders at the park to determine if the 3-D images look authentic enough.

“Difficult construction work could be recorded in 360-degree imagery and handed down to the next generation in the company,” said Toshihito Takekawa, assistant chief of Seibu Railway’s planning division. “We would like to think about various ways to use VR technologies in the railway industry.”

Tags: technologytrainingJapan Rail
Categories: Labor News

Man arrested in punching of woman AC ATU 192 Transit driver in Hayward

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 16:26

Man arrested in punching of woman AC ATU 192 Transit driver in Hayward
https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2018/03/08/man-arrested-in-punching-of-woma...
By HARRY HARRIS | hharris@bayareanewsgroup.com | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: March 8, 2018 at 2:18 pm | UPDATED: March 8, 2018 at 2:48 pm
HAYWARD — A Richmond man was arrested Wednesday night on suspicion of punching an AC Transit female bus driver in the face at the South Hayward BART station, authorities said Thursday.

Joseph Pulido, 30, was booked at Santa Rita Jail on suspicion of battery against a public transit employee. He was being held Thursday in lieu of $10,000 bail.

Sgt. Ray Kelly, of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, which has jurisdiction on AC Transit buses, said Pulido boarded the bus around 7 p.m. Wednesday and without provocation hit the driver in her face near her eye before fleeing.

ADVERTISING

He was arrested by BART police officers and turned over to sheriff’s deputies.

The Alameda County Sheriff's Office provided an image Thursday, March 8, 2018 of Joseph Pulido, 30, of Richmond.
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office provided an image Thursday, March 8, 2018 of Joseph Pulido, 30, of Richmond.
Kelly said the driver identified Pulido as the suspect and the attack was captured on the bus’ video surveillance system. The driver was treated at the scene for swelling and other injuries, authorities said.

Authorities are trying to determine a motive for the attack. Pulido is scheduled to be arraigned Monday.

A call to an AC Transit representative was not immediately returned Thursday afternoon.

Staff writer George Kelly contributed to this report. Contact Harry Harris at 510-208-6443.

Tags: ATU 192women transit driver
Categories: Labor News

Felixstowe Dockers To keep Felixstowe Dockers and other Dockers around the world informed as to what is going on around us all.

Sun, 03/04/2018 - 18:31

Felixstowe Dockers To keep Felixstowe Dockers and other Dockers around the world informed as to what is going on around us all.

https://felixstowedocker.blogspot.com/2018/03/norwegian-dockers-need-fin...

SATURDAY, 3 MARCH 2018
Norwegian Dockers Need Finacial Help

Posting on behalf of Svein Lundeng & Dockers Hangarounds

Cash in support of the port workers is immediately empty
The Port Worker hopes for help to support the last port workers until the summer.

When the Transport Workers Association stopped paying the strike allowance to the harbor workers in Tromsø and Mosjøen about a year ago, almost 30 port workers stood without any kind of income or unemployment insurance. It was the start of a massive fundraising campaign both inside and outside the trade union movement.

A total of around NOK 3.6 million was collected.
Needs 600,000 kroner

There are still 12-13 port workers in the two cities that have not got a job and have so far received around 17,000 kroner each month from the collective action.

According to the chairman of the Norwegian Harbor Workers' Association, Bjørn Steffensen, it is now only 40,000 kroner left, so unless there is more money for the collection action, it will be just over 3000 kroner to each of the port workers as a final payment next month.

"This means we must try to ask for solidarity in the trade union movement, to individuals, clubs, associations, trade unions and others so that we can get money to support them at least until summer," says Steffensen.

He estimates that there will be a need of 600,000-700,000 kroner to get it done.

"The money should preferably come quickly. Port workers are still doing a bad month, but two get hard, he says.
Their own company

When the sympathy conflict in Tromsø and Mosjøen began in December 2013 in connection with the fight for a collective agreement at Risavika Terminal AS outside Stavanger, there were 14 port workers in Tromsø and 17 in Mosjøen. Today, the situation is quite different.

"From next month, only one of the harbor workers in Tromsø, who has not got another job. In Mosjøen there are eleven left. They are in the process of establishing their own company so that they can lease their labor, but until they are in place they also need help, says Steffensen.

He believes this will be in place for the summer.
"There is a lot of activity in the area and we have received signals that there are good opportunities for work for the remaining harbor workers in Mosjøen. In addition, we are waiting for the trial, so it is important for us to keep the port workers working, "he says.

collection campaign
The account number of the collection action is: 3060.33.16947 (Norsk Havnearbeiderforening, PO Box 2079, 6028 Skarbøvik).
BIC/SWIFT: DNBANOKKXXX
IBAN: NO0330603316947 acountnr: 30603316947
"I hope as many as possible can contribute, and that everyone is spreading the call to help," concludes Bjørn Steffensen, head of the Norwegian Harbor Workers' Union.

Tags: Felixstowe DockersTransport Workers Association
Categories: Labor News

SF MTA, SF Mayor And Supervisors Allowing Privatization Of Public Transportation With Ford Chariot Deal

Sun, 03/04/2018 - 05:53

SF MTA, SF Mayor And Supervisors Allowing Privatization Of Public Transportation With Ford Chariot Deal

SFMTA Chariot permit endangers public transit

http://www.sfexaminer.com/no-fan-van-sfmta-chariot-permit-endangers-publ...

Chariot, San Francisco’s only private bus service, is prohibited from replicating Muni bus routes. (Daniel Kim/2017 Special to S.F. Examiner)
By Patrick Maley on February 28, 2018 1:00 am
As a regular Muni commuter, I’m extremely disappointed with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s decision to move forward with its permit program for the Chariot private bus service. Far from “complementing” Muni service, the new rules essentially give the exclusive right for Chariot to compete directly with Muni. Of the 14 current routes competing with Muni, all but three would be “grandfathered” in — that is, they can run as is and even intensify in the future.

Many of Chariot’s operations are illegal; drivers have few legal places to pick up and discharge passengers, so they double park, pull into crosswalks and public bus stops and block driveways. In fact, Chariot has been observed blocking hospital entrances and preventing paratransit vehicles from accessing passenger unloading zones. Rather than “addressing traffic violations,” the regulations send Chariot the tacit message that traffic violations will be ignored.

Moreover, the SFMTA could be charging a lot more for the right to use city streets as places of enterprise, but it isn’t. In 2012, San Francisco cab drivers sued the SFMTA over the cost of medallions — a fee of $250,000 per vehicle — in Mounsey vs. SFMTA. The cab drivers lost. But the SFMTA is only proposing to charge Ford, which owns Chariot, $240,000 for the entire cost of its fleet, which around 150 vehicles now. Ford just received a 14 percent tax cut from the federal government. Why is the SFMTA consenting to another giveaway at the local level?

Chariot’s website states the core of its mission is “universal access to better transportation.” In reality, Chariot’s business model is about marketing a luxury brand to affluent city dwellers who do not want to mix with other San Franciscans. Chariot’s vehicle type, pricing and marketing are all set up to facilitate this experience. Its fares are high enough that it can effectively exclude riders it doesn’t want, particularly the 53 percent of Muni riders who live in households earning less than $50,000 a year. Unlike Muni, it doesn’t provide free or discounted fares to seniors, children or low-to-moderate income rider; Chariot’s rates range from $3 to $5 a ride. It also requires the use of a smartphone, an average cost of $567, and requires a service plan at an average monthly cost of $140.

In this way, Chariot’s price discrimination creates a barrier to many of the people most in need of public transit. Clearly, Chariot’s mission is not providing “universal access” but making a profit per ride on commuters who would rather ride in a segregated van.

Ford knows private cars sales are declining, so it intends to move into the privatized transit business. It found a willing market with new San Franciscans who don’t want to ride with people who are poorer, older or of a different color than them — and now they have found a willing agency in the SFMTA. This is Jim Crow 2.0.

Patrick Maley is a public transportation advocate in San Francisco.

Tags: SF MTAprivatizationSF politicians privatizationdiscrimination
Categories: Labor News

FTA finds tracks in ‘black condition’ but DC Metro routinely reclassifies them, keeping them in service "some contend Metro has a culture that discourages workers from reporting track defects and other problems — and their true severity — for fear of reta

Sat, 03/03/2018 - 20:07

FTA finds tracks in ‘black condition’ but DC Metro routinely reclassifies them, keeping them in service
"some contend Metro has a culture that discourages workers from reporting track defects and other problems — and their true severity — for fear of retaliation."
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/fta-finds-track...

A Metro train derailed just outside the East Falls Church station in July 2016. Tracks with “black-level” defects can cause derailments and other problems. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)
By Faiz Siddiqui March 3 at 6:00 PM Email the author
For three consecutive months, federal inspectors warned of deteriorating rail ties at Metro’s Braddock Road crossover, a “black-level” defect that calls for tracks be taken out of service, but Metro continued to run Blue and Yellow line trains over the segment as conditions persisted, according to inspection reports from the Federal Transit Administration.
“Only five non-defective ties were observed within 40 feet at [the interlocking]. Black condition,” an FTA inspector wrote Sept. 19, 2017. “Only five non-defective ties were observed within a 40-foot segment of track at [the interlocking]. Black Condition,” an Oct. 12 report noted.
“Five consecutive defective crossties, measuring 162 inches between non-defective ties, were observed at [the interlocking]. Black Condition,” a Nov. 29 inspection report said, summing up a type of track defect that has led to Metro derailments in the past.
Metro said its crews followed up on the FTA inspections and found the tracks were safe to keep in operation amid “ongoing” work, including the repair and replacement of some ties and upgrades to technical components, along with a doubling of inspections along the stretch.
A long-term fix for the Braddock Road interlocking — a point where trains change tracks — was on hold until temperatures rose, and is scheduled for this weekend, Metro said last week. Crews will renew the steel rails, fasteners and studs in the area, the transit agency said.
Federal inspectors found serious defects on these portions of the Metro tracks, according to their October and November reports. (Images from the Federal Transit Administration)
But Metro’s decision to keep tracks in service for months despite repeated warnings of dangerous conditions highlights a disconnect between FTA inspectors’ assessments and Metro’s response to the federal oversight it has been under since October 2015.
“I can only hope it is not a replay of the same movie we’ve seen way too much,” said Anthony Foxx, the Obama administration’s transportation secretary who had taken the unprecedented step of placing the rail system under federal oversight after its former oversight panel was found woefully inadequate.
Foxx said he did not know why the Metro and FTA findings would differ.
A Washington Post analysis of FTA inspections of Metro in 2017 documented at least 27 instances where federal inspectors noted black-level conditions in the 117-mile rail system, an indication that tracks had deteriorated to the point that trains could not safely run on them. The most recent “black-level” defect was from a November report, the latest round of publicly available FTA inspections. Metro says in 25 of the 27 cases, its workers did not find conditions as severe as those outlined by FTA inspectors.[Inspection of Baltimore subway found 17 of 19 track segments checked were unsafe to operate on]
It was an excessive number of black-level defects that prompted Maryland transit officials to order a month-long shutdown of the entire 15.5-mile Baltimore subway last month. Officials found 17 of 19 track segments evaluated in 11 curves were inoperable because of concerns about the angle of the tracks.
Metro said the two defects it agreed with the FTA were “actual” black conditions were both on a stretch of the Orange, Blue and Silver lines outside the Stadium-Armory station that has previously been highlighted as a problem spot.
The remaining 25 cases included 16 instances of loose, defective or non-holding fasteners and a spectrum of issues from wide gauge to wearing of the rails. Ten did not require speed restrictions, Metro said, and of the remaining segments, five were placed under slow-speed restrictions, seven were put under medium speed restrictions and three were repaired overnight, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said.
Metro’s explanation puzzled the FTA, which said the transit authority conducts follow-up inspections to determine the proper course of action for FTA’s findings. Those follow-ups don’t change the initial FTA assessments — made during inspections with Metro officials on site.
“FTA and [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority] inspectors use the same definitions of track conditions, as found in the WMATA manual. WMATA then conducts follow-up inspections to determine the appropriate response, which they have some discretion to decide,” an FTA spokesman said. “However, those follow-up actions do not change the original finding.”
[FTA safety inspectors uncover more track defects that Metro missed]
The FTA said it stands by its inspections and the conclusions of its investigators. One possible explanation for the discrepancy, Metro said, is that the transit agency is in the process of updating some aspects of its track inspection manual, including sections on the appropriate responses to certain findings.Under the FTA oversight, federal track walkers inspect portions of the Metro system multiple times per month alongside Metro crews, and make observations in reports shared with Metro. Although Metro decides how to respond, the FTA has the authority to shut down all or parts of the system if it doesn’t trust Metro’s assessments, the agency said.
“This is not a matter of an ‘us versus them’ dynamic with the FTA,” Stessel said. “When a report of a track defect comes in, WMATA subject-matter experts respond to validate the report, assess the condition and determine appropriate mitigation. Upon further review/analysis with subject-matter experts on site, FTA inspectors will typically defer the final determination/resolution to the agency experts, as we are ultimately responsible for safeguarding the riding public.”
Track defects are logged using a color-coded guide. Defects are rated on a best-to-worst spectrum from green to yellow to red to black. Because of the progressive color-coding, rail experts say, a regularly inspected system should avoid black-level defects. But some contend Metro has a culture that discourages workers from reporting track defects and other problems — and their true severity — for fear of retaliation.
Those concerns were highlighted following a July 2016 derailment outside the East Falls Church stop. In the wake of an investigation into the incident, Metro fired a third of its track inspection department and overhauled the 60-worker unit after officials found a widespread pattern of report falsification and retaliation.
It’s also not the first time FTA inspectors have caught serious track defects that Metro workers missed.
In April 2016, Metro halted rail traffic or slowed trains in 10 locations after federal inspectors discovered track defects that Metro inspectors missed; the defects could have caused derailments and other problems.
Meanwhile, Metro is still investigating a Jan. 15 derailment between Farragut North and Metro Center, which a preliminary report shows was caused by a broken rail.
[One-third of Metro’s track inspection department has been fired for falsifying records, Wiedefeld confirms]
This also wasn’t the first time Metro downplayed an inspector’s assessment of the dangerous conditions at the Braddock crossover. One of the agency’s own track inspectors warned of severely degraded tracks in the area, only to be rebutted by supervisors who said the tracks were safe, according to two individuals with knowledge of the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the investigation.
The Metro inspector took his complaint to the FTA, federal inspection reports show, and a later FTA inspection validated the worker’s assessment. A March 2016 FTA inspection report noted: “[N]on holding crossties and fasteners permitting both rails to move horizontally and vertically. Both rails could be moved horizontally with human foot pressure.”
The Washington Post review of 2017 reports shows that the defects found by the FTA ranged from concerns about gauge — the width of the tracks — to the condition of crossties, which secure the rails in place, and concerns about the rails themselves.
But the majority concerned fasteners, components that secure the rails in place underground and in some aerial portions of the system.
In one instance that raised alarm with the FTA, but was later downgraded by Metro, FTA crews discovered last March that tracks were not holding in place on an aerial structure in the Grosvenor area.
The “egg shape fasteners are failing,” the FTA inspector observed. “This condition is allowing the rail to float in an unsecure [manner].”
During the year-long SafeTrack program, Metro replaced more than 50,000 crossties and says it is undergoing a similar process with fasteners — a process that is less disruptive and labor-intensive than the one for crossties.
[After a year of FTA oversight of Metro, questions about whether safety has improved]
“We replaced just over 13,000 fasteners in the past six months, with a similar number planned over the remainder of the fiscal year,” Stessel said.
While SafeTrack’s conclusion in June pointed to progress for agency officials, the discovery of black-level conditions did not trend downward as the year progressed. Twelve of the black-level defects were recorded from September through November, the most recent data available. The FTA said it does not collect data on black-level conditions from other agencies for comparison.
Among the defects noted as black-level conditions in federal reports, but later assessed by Metro to be less severe: a Sept. 13 finding of wide gauge, where the tracks are spaced too far apart support a train. While not always classified as a black condition, wide gauge has been the cause of several derailments, including a 2015 incident outside the Smithsonian Metro station and the July 2016 derailment near East Falls Church.
Metro said it found 58 black conditions in the system last year, including the two it accepted from the FTA findings. Overall, the agency said it reported 295 conditions “resulting in speed restrictions or track being taken out of service” to the FTA last year.

FTA finds tracks in ‘black condition’ but Metro routinely reclassifies them, keeping them in service
Transit agency’s response highlights its disconnect with federal inspectors’ assessments while under U.S. oversight.
WASHINGTONPOST.COM

Tags: DC Metrohealth and safetyretaliationBullying
Categories: Labor News

Rebuilding an Independent Fighting Workers’ Movement-ATU 241 Chicago Activist Erek Slater Speaks Out

Thu, 03/01/2018 - 18:37

Rebuilding an Independent Fighting Workers’ Movement-ATU 241 Chicago Activist Erek Slater
Speaks Out
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQQD9jXKmqc&feature=youtu.be
Erek Slater
Published on Feb 25, 2018
Discussion of Chicago region transit workers recent campaigns to unite with each other and our allies. In the context of a potential Supreme Court decision harming unions financial standing (Janus), this video briefly takes lessons from the period of expanse of the labor movement in the United States (1930s-40s). This video argues for a turn in the workers movement away from business unionism and towards the continuity of independent mass action of the working class.

The views expressed in this video do not reflect the views of the Chicago Transit Authority or the Amalgamated Transit Union.

Corrections, suggestions, ideas and most importantly if you want to get involved, please email: transitworkersunite@gmail.com

corrections:
-the worker-community confrontation of the CTA at Kennedy King Community College was in 2011, not 2015.
-The CIO is the Congress of Industrial Organizations

Tags: Chicago ATU 241transit workers
Categories: Labor News

How to grow a union in an anti-union state "ATU Local 1235 local’s membership rate went up by 36 percent, despite being in a right-to-work state.”

Wed, 02/28/2018 - 11:06

How to grow a union in an anti-union state "ATU Local 1235 local’s membership rate went up by 36 percent, despite being in a right-to-work state.”

https://www.marketplace.org/2018/02/26/business/union-membership-south-t...
How to grow a union in an anti-union state

To Patrick Green, even one new member is a big deal. Green is a president of Local 1235, which is part of the Amalgamated Transit Union in Nashville, Tennessee. In the three years that he has been leading the union, the local’s membership rate went up by 36 percent, despite being in a right-to-work state.

By Jana Kasperkevic
February 26, 2018 | 7:31 AM
Demonstrators rally in front of city hall in solidarity with union workers across the country on February 26, 2011 in New York City.
Demonstrators rally in front of city hall in solidarity with union workers across the country on February 26, 2011 in New York City. - Michael Nagle/Getty Images
Before Mark Janus gets his paycheck, a number of things get deducted: taxes, Social Security and Medicare. And then a small portion of Janus’ paycheck goes to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a union that negotiated his contract. Janus is not a union member, but he is required to pay what is called a “fair-share” fee that covers the union’s costs of negotiating and maintaining a contract.

Those fair-share fees are controversial. Janus, who works in Illinois, sued AFSCME, arguing it violated his free speech, and the Supreme Court is hearing his case today.

But had Janus lived in one of the 28 states that have “right-to-work” laws in place, he wouldn’t have had to pay the fees in the first place. These laws allow workers covered by a union-negotiated contract to opt out of paying the fair-share fee.

Sarah Menendez for Marketplace
In the South, right-to-work legislation has been on the books since the 1940s when these states decided to use low unionization as an incentive to attract business investment, according to Barry Hirsch, a labor economist and a professor at the Georgia State University.

But recently the movement has begun to creep north. In 2012, Indiana and Michigan passed new right-to-work laws, followed by Wisconsin in 2015, West Virginia in 2016 and Missouri and Kentucky in 2017.

“In the past, going back 40, 50 years ago, and particularly in the northern part, people had either parents or relatives who were union members. Or next-door neighbors,” said Hirsch. “Whereas in the South, a large proportion of people would grow up not knowing anyone who is a union member.”

Union organizers in states like Tennessee are hoping to change that. Since 2010, the number of union members in Tennessee has grown from 115,000 to 155,000. Still, only 5.7 percent of Tennessee workers are members of a union.

How to grow a union in the South

To Patrick Green, even one new member is a big deal. Green is a president of Local 1235, which is part of the Amalgamated Transit Union in Nashville, Tennessee. In the three years that he has been leading the union, the local’s membership rate went up by 36 percent, despite being in a right-to-work state.

“I am a native Nashvillian,” Green said. “Right-to-work is all I've ever known.”

Before Green became a president of his local union, he was “a fair quiet bus driver” that “didn’t cause any problems.” As years went on, Green, who had worked in management in the past, felt that the union did not always do its best to represent the workers’ interests and that it was not as transparent as it should’ve been when negotiating contracts.

But instead of leaving the union and not paying his union dues, Green and two of his friends decided to run for leadership positions so that they could turn things around.

“I had no union background, no union experience, was just a member and saw an opportunity to help the local that is here in Nashville, Tennessee,” he said. “I felt that the leadership that we had at the time, they weren't equipped to handle the changing workplace that we were facing.”

In June 2015, Green was elected president of Local 1235. At the time, its membership rate was just around 50 percent. But he didn’t view Tennessee’s right-to-work laws as a death sentence — instead, he saw them as something that forces the union to try harder to connect with the workers it is supposed to represent.

“We had a lot of disgruntled members, which is by design in a right-to-work state,” Green said. “We have experienced generations of people who believe that unions were bad. ... They just take your money. They abuse you. They don't do anything for you. And so we discovered during the process of running for the union president that we had to internally change the mindset of the members that we actually had.”

Green found that the most effective way to find out what mattered to his members was to ask their families. Many workers’ families depend on the benefits covered by the union’s contract.

“We actually have separate planning sessions for spouses where we look at spouses, husbands and wives, and we said: ‘What do you need? What do you need for your family? What can we do better as it relates to our benefits? How can we best support the family?’ And you would be surprised at how engaged people actually get.”

The new approach helped change the mindset of a number of the union’s members.

“When I first took over the local a few years ago, we were effectively just south of 300 members. We were more in the 270 to 280 range,” Green said. “Today, we have about 460 members out of an eligible group of about 530. And so we are effectively closing that gap quickly.”

Green attributes that to happy union members who spread the word about the benefits of being in the union.

In states like Tennessee, where so few people belong to a union, unions face an important task of getting the word out about what they have to offer. Every quarter, members of Local 1235 volunteer in their community. Green views it not just as a team-building exercise, but also as a way to do community outreach and let Nashvillians meet union members.

“Our stigma here is so bad in the South. Most people are ashamed to tell their neighbors that they are in a union,” he said. “And we actually want to change that. Because we're human beings, too. We've just made the decision that we want a workplace that is fair and one that treats me with dignity, and we're not afraid to speak out.”

Tags: ATU 1235Right To WorkNashvilleTennessee
Categories: Labor News

How to grow a union in an anti-union state "ATU Local 1235 local’s membership rate went up by 36 percent, despite being in a right-to-work state.”

Wed, 02/28/2018 - 11:06

How to grow a union in an anti-union state "ATU Local 1235 local’s membership rate went up by 36 percent, despite being in a right-to-work state.”

https://www.marketplace.org/2018/02/26/business/union-membership-south-t...
How to grow a union in an anti-union state

To Patrick Green, even one new member is a big deal. Green is a president of Local 1235, which is part of the Amalgamated Transit Union in Nashville, Tennessee. In the three years that he has been leading the union, the local’s membership rate went up by 36 percent, despite being in a right-to-work state.

By Jana Kasperkevic
February 26, 2018 | 7:31 AM
Demonstrators rally in front of city hall in solidarity with union workers across the country on February 26, 2011 in New York City.
Demonstrators rally in front of city hall in solidarity with union workers across the country on February 26, 2011 in New York City. - Michael Nagle/Getty Images
Before Mark Janus gets his paycheck, a number of things get deducted: taxes, Social Security and Medicare. And then a small portion of Janus’ paycheck goes to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a union that negotiated his contract. Janus is not a union member, but he is required to pay what is called a “fair-share” fee that covers the union’s costs of negotiating and maintaining a contract.

Those fair-share fees are controversial. Janus, who works in Illinois, sued AFSCME, arguing it violated his free speech, and the Supreme Court is hearing his case today.

But had Janus lived in one of the 28 states that have “right-to-work” laws in place, he wouldn’t have had to pay the fees in the first place. These laws allow workers covered by a union-negotiated contract to opt out of paying the fair-share fee.

Sarah Menendez for Marketplace
In the South, right-to-work legislation has been on the books since the 1940s when these states decided to use low unionization as an incentive to attract business investment, according to Barry Hirsch, a labor economist and a professor at the Georgia State University.

But recently the movement has begun to creep north. In 2012, Indiana and Michigan passed new right-to-work laws, followed by Wisconsin in 2015, West Virginia in 2016 and Missouri and Kentucky in 2017.

“In the past, going back 40, 50 years ago, and particularly in the northern part, people had either parents or relatives who were union members. Or next-door neighbors,” said Hirsch. “Whereas in the South, a large proportion of people would grow up not knowing anyone who is a union member.”

Union organizers in states like Tennessee are hoping to change that. Since 2010, the number of union members in Tennessee has grown from 115,000 to 155,000. Still, only 5.7 percent of Tennessee workers are members of a union.

How to grow a union in the South

To Patrick Green, even one new member is a big deal. Green is a president of Local 1235, which is part of the Amalgamated Transit Union in Nashville, Tennessee. In the three years that he has been leading the union, the local’s membership rate went up by 36 percent, despite being in a right-to-work state.

“I am a native Nashvillian,” Green said. “Right-to-work is all I've ever known.”

Before Green became a president of his local union, he was “a fair quiet bus driver” that “didn’t cause any problems.” As years went on, Green, who had worked in management in the past, felt that the union did not always do its best to represent the workers’ interests and that it was not as transparent as it should’ve been when negotiating contracts.

But instead of leaving the union and not paying his union dues, Green and two of his friends decided to run for leadership positions so that they could turn things around.

“I had no union background, no union experience, was just a member and saw an opportunity to help the local that is here in Nashville, Tennessee,” he said. “I felt that the leadership that we had at the time, they weren't equipped to handle the changing workplace that we were facing.”

In June 2015, Green was elected president of Local 1235. At the time, its membership rate was just around 50 percent. But he didn’t view Tennessee’s right-to-work laws as a death sentence — instead, he saw them as something that forces the union to try harder to connect with the workers it is supposed to represent.

“We had a lot of disgruntled members, which is by design in a right-to-work state,” Green said. “We have experienced generations of people who believe that unions were bad. ... They just take your money. They abuse you. They don't do anything for you. And so we discovered during the process of running for the union president that we had to internally change the mindset of the members that we actually had.”

Green found that the most effective way to find out what mattered to his members was to ask their families. Many workers’ families depend on the benefits covered by the union’s contract.

“We actually have separate planning sessions for spouses where we look at spouses, husbands and wives, and we said: ‘What do you need? What do you need for your family? What can we do better as it relates to our benefits? How can we best support the family?’ And you would be surprised at how engaged people actually get.”

The new approach helped change the mindset of a number of the union’s members.

“When I first took over the local a few years ago, we were effectively just south of 300 members. We were more in the 270 to 280 range,” Green said. “Today, we have about 460 members out of an eligible group of about 530. And so we are effectively closing that gap quickly.”

Green attributes that to happy union members who spread the word about the benefits of being in the union.

In states like Tennessee, where so few people belong to a union, unions face an important task of getting the word out about what they have to offer. Every quarter, members of Local 1235 volunteer in their community. Green views it not just as a team-building exercise, but also as a way to do community outreach and let Nashvillians meet union members.

“Our stigma here is so bad in the South. Most people are ashamed to tell their neighbors that they are in a union,” he said. “And we actually want to change that. Because we're human beings, too. We've just made the decision that we want a workplace that is fair and one that treats me with dignity, and we're not afraid to speak out.”

Tags: ATU 1235Right To WorkNashvilleTennessee
Categories: Labor News

Emmanuel Macron takes on unions to cut French rail workers’ rights

Mon, 02/26/2018 - 10:26

Emmanuel Macron takes on unions to cut French rail workers’ rights
Strike action being discussed after reforms unveiled by French prime minister Édouard Philippe
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/26/emmanuel-macron-takes-on-f...
Angelique Chrisafis in Paris
@achrisafis
Mon 26 Feb 2018 11.59 EST

SNCF has debts of more than €45bn and must ready itself for incoming EU competition rules. Photograph: Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images
Emmanuel Macron is to push through sweeping reforms to France’s vast state rail system and cut rail workers’ special employment rights – tackling one of France’s riskiest political issues.

Any question of overhauling the SNCF state railway company has always proved controversial, with the train network grinding to a virtual halt for weeks when trade unions opposed changes to rail staff’s benefits in 1995.

But the French prime minister, Édouard Philippe, said that the government would quickly push through changes by special executive decree without a vote in parliament if necessary. Trade unions are discussing possible strikes on 12 March and will join bigger public sector strikes on 22 March.

Unlike Britain, where rail services were privatised in the 1990s, the SNCF remains state-run and is seen as a national treasure. But, although the train network has been rated among the best in Europe in terms of speed, quality and price, urban commuters and regional passengers increasingly complain of overcrowding, inefficiency, delays and problems.

The main issue for Macron is that the French state rail operator is struggling under debts of €46.6bn (£41bn) – bigger than those of a small country such as Iceland or Croatia, but still in line with the large debt of rail networks in places such as Britain, where the track operator, Network Rail, is facing its own financial woes.

The prime minister said France’s rail situation was alarming and untenable. “Whether or not they take the train, the French are paying more and more for a public service that works less and less well.”

The french prime minister, Édouard Philippe
The prime minister, Édouard Philippe, announcing reform plans for the SNCF on Monday. Photograph: Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images
Unions had expressed fears of privatisation after an advisory report 10 days ago suggested turning SNCF into an autonomous company backed by public funds. Philippe insisted on Monday that privatisation was not on the cards. He said the SNCF would remain state-owned: it was part of French people’s heritage and “will stay that way”.

However he was firm on cutting rail workers’ special employment status. Many French rail workers have jobs for life and, in some cases, the right to retire in their 50s – a decade earlier than other public workers. Under government plans, these historical privileges would not be applied to new rail staff.

Philippe said France’s national railway company had to become more efficient before local and national passenger services open up to competition in coming years under European Union rules. But trade unions raged at the possible use of executive orders to force through changes – as used for Macron’s labour reforms last year. Jean-Claude Mailly, the head of the Force Ouvrière union, warned that using decrees would “pour oil on the fire”.

The government said the reform process would begin with a parliamentary debate in mid-March but in the event of wide opposition the assembly would not have a final vote.

The prime minister has said he would not close small local train lines, said to cost almost €2bn for only 2% of national passengers. This issue could now fall to regional authorities to decide.

Tags: French Railway Workersrail workersstrike
Categories: Labor News

Former Portland BNSF rail engineer James Norvell fired for whistleblowing

Wed, 02/21/2018 - 14:42

Former Portland BNSF rail engineer James Norvell fired for whistleblowing
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3H4_SZpadc

KING 5
Published on Jan 24, 2018
A train engineer says he was wrongfully terminated by Warren Buffet’s BNSF Railway Company after he prevented a crash. He is now suing his old employer in federal court, saying his case highlights concerns about how locomotives are repaired.

Portland Ex-BNSF engineer and whistleblower claims he was wrongly fired after avoiding rail mishap in Portland

Former BNSF engineer says he was fired for avoiding wreck
A former BNSF Railway locomotive engineer is suing the Class I railroad because he was allegedly fired after preventing a wreck at a yard in Portland, Ore., the Seattle Times reports. Earlier this month, a federal judge denied a motion by the railroad to throw out the case.

According to court documents, James T. Norvell, a 13-year veteran of the railroad, was operating a transfer job between two yards in Portland in 2015 when the locomotive’s brakes failed. Norvell put the locomotive in reverse, bringing it to a stop but causing significant damage. Norvell was terminated soon after. The engineer says he should not be fired because the railroad failed to maintain its locomotives and because his actions prevented a derailment or worse.

BNSF denies all of the allegations within the suit.

Portland Ex-BNSF engineer claims he was wrongly fired after avoiding rail mishap in Portland

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/ex-bnsf-engineer-claims-he-was...

Originally published January 22, 2018 at 10:47 am Updated January 22, 2018 at 11:06 am
A federal judge recently denied the railroad’s request to dismiss a lawsuit filed by James T. Norvell, a Ballard resident, and scheduled a trial for later this year.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/ex-bnsf-engineer-claims-he-was...

Portland Ex-BNSF engineer and whistleblower claims he was wrongly fired after avoiding rail mishap in Portland
By Mike Carter
Seattle Times staff reporter

A former engineer for BNSF Railway now working and living in Ballard claims in

a federal whistleblower lawsuit that he was fired for damaging company property after he was forced to throw a runaway locomotive into reverse to avoid a potentially catastrophic accident in Portland in 2015.

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4356128-Norvell-Complaint.html

A federal judge in Tacoma earlier this month denied a motion by the railroad to dismiss the lawsuit filed in August by James T. Norvell, finding that Norvell’s claims at this point give him standing to sue over his contention that he was improperly fired for discharging a public duty — protecting the lives of citizens The lawsuit claims that the tracks within the yard “are unique in that they all run downhill.”

According to the suit, Norvell was aware there were others working around him and “knew there were loaded hazardous tank cars at the bottom of the yard and parked in a manner roughly broadside to the direction of travel of his train.”

Moreover, the lawsuit notes, the Willbridge Yard is surrounded by petroleum and chemical tank farms.

“If he could not stop the train, Norvell would have put the lives of his co-workers in peril and likely would have caused an enormous explosion and/or spill of hazardous materials that would have put the public at large in danger,” according to the lawsuit.

“With no other option to stop the train in time to avoid catastrophe, Norvell threw the throttle into reverse and was able to bring the train to a safe stop,” the lawsuit said.

The result, however, was that the locomotive sustained serious damage.

Four days after the incident, according to the lawsuit, Norvell was notified that BNSF had initiated disciplinary proceedings against him because he had “failed to properly stop your movement in accordance with proper train handling,” resulting in damage to the locomotive.

At a hearing a month later, Norvell presented evidence — in the form of an affidavit and testimony of a BNSF locomotive mechanic identified as Warren Stout — about shortcomings at the Vancouver, Washington, BNSF maintenance facility where Locomotive 2339 had recently been serviced.

Norvell also provided maintenance logs showing the locomotive “had brake rigging defects that had not been properly addressed despite multiple reports of the problem and multiple trips to the BNSF locomotive facilities in Vancouver and Seattle” before the July 12 incident at Willbridge Yard, according to the lawsuit.

Stout, according to the lawsuit and the sworn affidavit, concluded that BNSF’s “Band-Aid” approach to maintenance and its “refusal to authorize proper repairs to locomotives, including 2339, had resulted in a ‘fleet of substandard and noncompliant locomotives haunting the area.’ ”

One of Norvell’s attorneys, Jeff Dingwall, of San Diego, said the railway “chose to blame him instead of owning up to the fact” of the maintenance problems.

Sonja Fritts, a Seattle lawyer representing BNSF, declined to comment Thursday on the allegations and referred inquiries to BNSF Railway spokesman Gus Melonas, who said the railroad had no comment.

However, in its answer to Norvell’s complaint, filed with the court on Wednesday, the railway denied all of Norvell’s substantive claims, up to and including his allegations that the public was in danger, that a catastrophe was averted, and that the tracks at the Willbridge Yard slope downhill.

In seeking to dismiss the claim outright, BNSF argued that the company’s collective-bargaining agreement with the engineer’s union governs his dismissal and that Norvell’s case doesn’t belong in federal court.

U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle disagreed and set a trial date for Sept. 17, although it is likely that will be delayed. In the meantime, both sides will proceed with discovery and depositions.

“It is clear that railroad employees such as plaintiff have important rights and duties under public policy that are protected independently of the [collective-bargaining agreements governing] their labor relations,” Settle wrote.

“For instance, [the law] expressly provides a cause of action for railroad employees who suffer retaliation for reporting railroad hazards and misconduct by railroad carriers,” the judge said.

Norvell now works as an engineer at the Ballard Terminal Railroad.

Mike Carter: mcarter@seattletimes.com or 206-464-3706

Categories: Labor News

Portland Ex-BNSF engineer and whistleblower claims he was wrongly fired after avoiding rail mishap in Portland

Wed, 02/21/2018 - 14:10

Portland Ex-BNSF engineer and whistleblower claims he was wrongly fired after avoiding rail mishap in Portland

Former BNSF engineer says he was fired for avoiding wreck
A former BNSF Railway locomotive engineer is suing the Class I railroad because he was allegedly fired after preventing a wreck at a yard in Portland, Ore., the Seattle Times reports. Earlier this month, a federal judge denied a motion by the railroad to throw out the case.

According to court documents, James T. Norvell, a 13-year veteran of the railroad, was operating a transfer job between two yards in Portland in 2015 when the locomotive’s brakes failed. Norvell put the locomotive in reverse, bringing it to a stop but causing significant damage. Norvell was terminated soon after. The engineer says he should not be fired because the railroad failed to maintain its locomotives and because his actions prevented a derailment or worse.

BNSF denies all of the allegations within the suit.

Portland Ex-BNSF engineer claims he was wrongly fired after avoiding rail mishap in Portland
https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/ex-bnsf-engineer-claims-he-was...
Originally published January 22, 2018 at 10:47 am Updated January 22, 2018 at 11:06 am
A federal judge recently denied the railroad’s request to dismiss a lawsuit filed by James T. Norvell, a Ballard resident, and scheduled a trial for later this year.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/ex-bnsf-engineer-claims-he-was...

Portland Ex-BNSF engineer and whistleblower claims he was wrongly fired after avoiding rail mishap in Portland
By Mike Carter
Seattle Times staff reporter

A former engineer for BNSF Railway now working and living in Ballard claims in

a federal whistleblower lawsuit that he was fired for damaging company property after he was forced to throw a runaway locomotive into reverse to avoid a potentially catastrophic accident in Portland in 2015.

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4356128-Norvell-Complaint.html

A federal judge in Tacoma earlier this month denied a motion by the railroad to dismiss the lawsuit filed in August by James T. Norvell, finding that Norvell’s claims at this point give him standing to sue over his contention that he was improperly fired for discharging a public duty — protecting the lives of citizens The lawsuit claims that the tracks within the yard “are unique in that they all run downhill.”

According to the suit, Norvell was aware there were others working around him and “knew there were loaded hazardous tank cars at the bottom of the yard and parked in a manner roughly broadside to the direction of travel of his train.”

Moreover, the lawsuit notes, the Willbridge Yard is surrounded by petroleum and chemical tank farms.

“If he could not stop the train, Norvell would have put the lives of his co-workers in peril and likely would have caused an enormous explosion and/or spill of hazardous materials that would have put the public at large in danger,” according to the lawsuit.

“With no other option to stop the train in time to avoid catastrophe, Norvell threw the throttle into reverse and was able to bring the train to a safe stop,” the lawsuit said.

The result, however, was that the locomotive sustained serious damage.

Four days after the incident, according to the lawsuit, Norvell was notified that BNSF had initiated disciplinary proceedings against him because he had “failed to properly stop your movement in accordance with proper train handling,” resulting in damage to the locomotive.

At a hearing a month later, Norvell presented evidence — in the form of an affidavit and testimony of a BNSF locomotive mechanic identified as Warren Stout — about shortcomings at the Vancouver, Washington, BNSF maintenance facility where Locomotive 2339 had recently been serviced.

Norvell also provided maintenance logs showing the locomotive “had brake rigging defects that had not been properly addressed despite multiple reports of the problem and multiple trips to the BNSF locomotive facilities in Vancouver and Seattle” before the July 12 incident at Willbridge Yard, according to the lawsuit.

Stout, according to the lawsuit and the sworn affidavit, concluded that BNSF’s “Band-Aid” approach to maintenance and its “refusal to authorize proper repairs to locomotives, including 2339, had resulted in a ‘fleet of substandard and noncompliant locomotives haunting the area.’ ”

One of Norvell’s attorneys, Jeff Dingwall, of San Diego, said the railway “chose to blame him instead of owning up to the fact” of the maintenance problems.

Sonja Fritts, a Seattle lawyer representing BNSF, declined to comment Thursday on the allegations and referred inquiries to BNSF Railway spokesman Gus Melonas, who said the railroad had no comment.

However, in its answer to Norvell’s complaint, filed with the court on Wednesday, the railway denied all of Norvell’s substantive claims, up to and including his allegations that the public was in danger, that a catastrophe was averted, and that the tracks at the Willbridge Yard slope downhill.

In seeking to dismiss the claim outright, BNSF argued that the company’s collective-bargaining agreement with the engineer’s union governs his dismissal and that Norvell’s case doesn’t belong in federal court.

U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle disagreed and set a trial date for Sept. 17, although it is likely that will be delayed. In the meantime, both sides will proceed with discovery and depositions.

“It is clear that railroad employees such as plaintiff have important rights and duties under public policy that are protected independently of the [collective-bargaining agreements governing] their labor relations,” Settle wrote.

“For instance, [the law] expressly provides a cause of action for railroad employees who suffer retaliation for reporting railroad hazards and misconduct by railroad carriers,” the judge said.

Norvell now works as an engineer at the Ballard Terminal Railroad.

Mike Carter: mcarter@seattletimes.com or 206-464-3706

Tags: BNSF Engineerwhistleblowerrail accidentBNSF
Categories: Labor News

SPANISH BARCLONA DOCKERS STRIKE! ‘CNT PORTUARIS’ COMMUNIQUE !!

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 20:11

SPANISH BARCLONA DOCKERS STRIKE! ‘CNT PORTUARIS’ COMMUNIQUE !!

”Our affiliates are accused of putting their own lives ahead of the economic benefits of the company. And that’s why they ARE DISMISSED.

700 people die each year in work accidents in the Spanish State. THIS STRIKE IS FOR THEM. This strike is for all of you, WORKERS, who, like our companions, are forced day after day to choose between your safety or your sustenance.

First of all, DIGNITY. Soon they will know that we are not merchandise.

ALL TO THE PORT OF BARCELONA ON DAYS 15, 16 and 17 FEBRUARY.

COME TO SUPPORT THE STRIKE IN THE MOORING!”

Statement on the dismissal of three Dockers in the Port of Barcelona
Enviat per Sec. Premsa

Dismissal of three union workers without any cause. The message is clear: the firm defense of workers’ rights is not allowed. We pick up the glove. One month before the Trial for Collective Conflict is held before the Social Chamber of the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia, our company MOORING & PORT SERVICE intends to gain an advantage .that will allow it to influence collective bargaining

Three of our affiliates of the Mooring Section of the Port of Barcelona were dismissed yesterday after the disciplinary file that the company opened last Friday, accusing the workers of having disobeyed an order from the company to perform a special service.

The company has ordeed the dismissal without considering ANY of the allegations of the workers:

– That the conduct they now punish can not be a reason for sanction, because the company had tolerated it until now, in which, surprisingly, it has executed 3 dismissals.

– That the behavior that is punished is classified as SERIOUS (and not very serious) in our disciplinary regime, so the maximum penalty is 30 days of employment and salary.

– That the sanction to one of the workers was prescribed.

– That a worker is not obliged to execute the orders of the company if they entail a danger, they are illegal or if they do not belong to their duties.

Our company, MOORING & PORT SERVICE, provides mooring and unmooring services to merchant ships that enter and leave the Port of Barcelona. But the owner of MOORING has another port services company: RUDDER LOGÍSTICS. To save costs, and as we are on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, instead of hiring their own staff, they use our staff (ILLEGAL ASSIGNMENT OF WORKERS) to do some services that:

-Do not appear in our contract

-Do not appear in the functions of our agreement or in the internal reguloations

-Do not appear in the Occupational Risk Prevention Plan of the company.

– They are jobs for which we have not received training and which entail a high intrinsic danger (handling of cranes, transport of dangerous goods, etc.).

– These are jobs that, in many cases, are illegal, since we transport dangerous goods by sea without respecting international regulations, as well as the transport of people from ships to the city without any control or registration, without going through customs. , etc. (We would be delighted that the company gave those facilities to people in need of refuge that die every day in the Mediterranean, but certainly not the case.).

Our affiliates are accused of putting their own lives ahead of the economic benefits of the company. And that’s why they ARE DISMISSED.

700 people die each year in work accidents in the Spanish State. THIS STRIKE IS FOR THEM. This strike is for all of you, WORKERS, who, like our companions, are forced day after day to choose between your safety or your sustenance.

First of all, DIGNITY. Soon they will know that we are not merchandise.

ALL TO THE PORT OF BARCELONA ON DAYS 15, 16 and 17 FEBRUARY.

COME TO SUPPORT THE STRIKE IN THE MOORING!

PS: We did not want to miss the opportunity to transmit a MESSAGE to a special person. IGNACIO BERRUEZO: you must know that the CNT is not intimidated by the port MAFIA.

See also:
http://cntbarcelona.org/vaga-damarradors-comunicat-de-cnt-portuaris/

earlier report from La Directa

The CNT rejects the conditions of the company to readmit the moorings of the port of Barcelona and keep the strike

Mooring & Port wants to keep a very serious sanction on workers to oppose doing tasks that exceed their obligations, and to force them to renounce their right to challenge it through judicial channels
Assembly on February 7 to support the three dismissed workers
by Gemma Garcia 02/12/2018

It is two thirty seven in the afternoon on Wednesday, February 7th and about a hundred workers gather at the Muelle de Sant Beltran 4, at Tinglado 3, of the labyrinth port of Barcelona. CNT Portuaris has called an assembly to the Mooring & Port company following the dismissal of three moorings.

The ties of solidarity between maritime workers are solid and have become evident on other occasions, as with the fight against the dismantling of the sector. Everyone responds to the call: the CGT tug boat group, the Tepsa liquid liquor storage company, the Union de Trabajadores del Puerto Union (USTP) and the Port Dockers Organization (Coordinator BCN), as well as members of the Business Committee of the Worker Organization of Port Company (OTEP).

The assembly was key. The CNT had already made a strike announcement for February 15, 16 and 17 in case of non-readmission of the three workers, but at that meeting it was agreed .to push all together to pressure the company

Only two days later, with a conciliation meeting in between, Mooring it was reported that he would readmit the three workers. “With the strike announcement we have used our negotiating force,” says Enrique Costoya, the lawyer of the anarchist union, who was clear that victory is the result of not only the pressure of the squad but the whole port that has given us support “.

But the three workers then received a letter of dismissal on February 1, where they were accused of having “disobeyed the direct orders of their hierarchical superiors”

Costoya regrets that Mooring intends to maintain a very serious penalty and to force the moorings to renounce their right to challenge it by judicial means. “We can not accept it, so let’s go on strike,” he concludes.

Disobedience referred to the fact that the three, on different dates, had refused to carry out the supply of a vessel of the same company, because, according to the mooring agreement, it is not part of its obligations.

The document defines that they carry out “tasks of mooring or unloading of ships, as well as other tasks related to the internal traffic of ports according to the use and practice of each of them.” The cargo of merchandise is not contemplated in the plan of prevention of occupational hazards of the company and doing so may mean end up manipulating carts and pallets with corrosive, toxic or flammable products.

The company opened a disciplinary record although the Workers Agreement itself states that “mere disobedience to its superiors in any matter of service” is a serious fault, but which can only entail suspension of work and salary of two to thirty days / Gemma Garcia….

In the middle of the conflict, the CNT also warned on social networks that the company had given orders to put all vehicles in a ship to avoid retaliation by the union. Under this pretext, they welded an internal pin and installed a loop leaving all the lathe workers locked in.

A collective conflict as a backdrop

The collective conflict is due to be resolved on March 15 in the High Court of Justice of Catalonia. The origin is in the refusal of the company to pay 96 hours extra to a dismissed worker. His count of hours, explains the CNT, had exceeded the annual work time of 1,836 hours established in the Workers’ Statute and in May of 2015, a judge gave the reason.

On the one hand, the hours that exceed the established, by being overtime, are voluntary not obligatory and, on the other, they should be paid.

The workers of the CNT already put on the table that Mooring, with the layoffs, had tried to influence the collective conflict that will be resolved on March 15th in the High Court of Justice of Catalonia…..At present, moorings are working around 2,000 annual hours and therefore there are about sixty more. Mooring & Port Services SL ended the monopoly of the mooring and unpacking service in the port of Barcelona that was in the hands of CEMESA.

Tags: Barcelona Dockers Strike
Categories: Labor News

ATU 1555 BART employees report being kicked, punched, spat on, held hostage “I never thought a simple questions to assist a passenger would lead to me being assaulted,” said ATU 1555 President Gena Alexander, who is also a train operator but on leave due

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 08:38

ATU 1555 BART employees report being kicked, punched, spat on, held hostage
“I never thought a simple questions to assist a passenger would lead to me being assaulted,” said ATU 1555 President Gena Alexander, who is also a train operator but on leave due to her current union position.

http://www.ktvu.com/news/bart-employees-report-being-kicked-punched-spat...

By: Candice Nguyen
POSTED: FEB 19 2018 02:19PM PST
VIDEO POSTED: FEB 19 2018 10:51PM PST
UPDATED: FEB 19 2018 10:57PM PST
OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - As police continue to investigate assaults and mob-style robberies against riders, attacks on BART employees are also steadily rising. These are scenarios where station agents and train operators are kicked, spat on, punched, held hostage, threatened with weapons and pushed down stairwells, according to data obtained by 2 Investigates.

From 2013 to 2017, there were 20 reported violent attacks against BART train operators and 174 reported attacks against station agents, BART crimes data shows.

BART officials acknowledged that these attacks come at a time when BART is down police officers and would like to hire more to patrol more consistently and effectively.

“I never thought a simple questions to assist a passenger would lead to me being assaulted,” said ATU 1555 President Gena Alexander, who is also a train operator but on leave due to her current union position.

Alexander said when she was a station agent, a passenger waited for her to leave her booth and then spat and hit her. A struggle ensued resulting in the attacker pulling out Alexander’s hair. She suffered other injuries, which she said forced her to take time off work.

Year-to-year data on station agent and train operator assaults show the number of annual reports increasing in recent years. From 2015 to 2016, the annual number of reports about doubled. Yet the actual numbers of assaults are significantly higher, multiple train operators told 2 Investigates. They say a significant, yet unknown, number of cases go unreported.

As a train operator later in her career, Alexander said she faced similar situations. “It’s scary being the last train of the night and having to sweep [clear it of passengers] by yourself hoping and praying when you pull in, BART police is there to assist you,” she said.

BART train operator Marvin Jones said he was also attacked on the job during an end of line sweep. He said a man refusing to leave the train threw a phone and struck his face.

“If [the attackers] are going to do it to us, it’s just a matter of time it’s going to happen to passengers,” Jones said.

Station Agent Dana Reeves has been working for BART for 17 years and said she never had an incident until recently.

“I’ve been assaulted twice within the last two weeks,” Reeves said.

On Jan. 6, Reeves said she was closing the 16th and Mission BART station alone when a man on drugs forced himself into her booth trapping her inside. She said it was an unprovoked incident.

“I didn’t know if he had weapons. Is he going to kill me?” she said. “I want to defend myself but I don’t because I don’t want to lose my job.”

Alexander agreed saying, “There is a tendency by management to attack the employee and put them in the seat where they are the defendant.”

BART policy does in fact prohibit all employees from possessing any sort of weapon or self defense tool while on the job or face disciplinary procedures up to and including termination. In a statement, BART wrote, in part:

“Safety is our top priority at BART. That extends to not just to our riders by also our employees….If an employee feels they are in an unsafe situation we encourage them to try to create a safe distance between themselves and a potential threat. Our emphasis is on de-escalating a situation before it turns violent. Employees are trained to disengage, remain in a safe place, and contact BART Police immediately...If a BART worker finds themselves in a situation where they have no other recourse against an immediate threat, then they can defend themselves.”

BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas told 2 Investigates it is protocol for his officers to help train operators clear cars of passengers at the end of the night, but sometimes other high-priority calls force them to respond to something else. His department is working to hire more officers.

“Over time, the department lost personnel through attrition, retirement and other things. All of the suddenly you end up with 36 vacancies,” Rojas said. “What I can tell you, from a legal perspective, everybody has the right of self defense under the law.”

Tags: ATU 1555oshahealth and safetyinjuries on the job
Categories: Labor News

Another Possible Attack On ILWU Port Workers-Close Howard Terminal-Commissioner visits A’s potential stadium sites

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 09:25

Another Possible Attack On ILWU Port Workers-Close Howard Terminal-Commissioner visits A’s potential stadium sites
Commissioner visits A’s potential stadium sites
https://www.sfchronicle.com/athletics/article/MLB-commissioner-visits-st...
By Susan SlusserFebruary 16, 2018 Updated: February 16, 2018 4:08pm

Photo: Noah Berger, Special To The Chronicle
IMAGE 1 OF 2A ship docks at the Howard Terminal, one of the sites under consideration for a new Oakland Athletics baseball stadium, on Saturday, May 27, 2017, in Oakland, Calif.
MESA, Ariz. — Commissioner Rob Manfred was in Oakland last month and visited potential A’s stadium sites, team president Dave Kaval told The Chronicle on Friday.

“The commissioner came to look at our new offices and I think he was impressed, and he also looked at the sites for a ballpark,” Kaval said at the A’s minor-league complex. “It was nice to give him a good tour.”

According to sources, the main focus of Manfred’s visit was Howard Terminal, the waterfront area near Jack London Square that is minutes away from the team’s new offices and is one of three areas the A’s have pinpointed during their stadium search.

Manfred has visited the A’s preferred site near Laney College previously, and of course he’s familiar with the third option, the Coliseum. Manfred is in regular contact with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf — a longtime supporter of the Howard Terminal site — and as Kaval noted, MLB has extensive experience with helping to troubleshoot stadium development issues.

“More than anything, we want to make sure everyone knows our efforts in Oakland to build a privately financed stadium and what it will take to make that happen — working with all the key stakeholders: the league, the city, maybe the port, the (Coliseum Joint Powers Authority),” Kaval said. “The league has a lot of expertise when it comes to ballpark development and situations that have worked and not worked, and relying on that I think is important.”

In trying to evaluate the transportation issues, for example, at Howard Terminal — which is a 20-minute walk from the nearest BART station — MLB can point to past workarounds in Cleveland, Baltimore and Toronto, Kaval said, adding, “That’s really where the league can be a best-practice clearinghouse.”

The A’s remain “100 percent focused on Oakland,” Kaval reiterated. “Obviously, we had a setback with our preferred site, but we’re still looking at all three sites and working with our partners and various stakeholders with a timeline for a 2023 opening, and we’re still on track with that path.”

Minor-leaguer starts fund: A’s pitching prospect Jesus Luzardo, obtained in the Sean Doolittle deal with Washington last year, graduated from Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla, two years ago. Friday, the right-hander created a memorial fund for the family of murdered athletic director Chris Hixon.

”Chris played a huge role in supporting my dreams of becoming a professional baseball player and his loss will be felt by everyone in the Douglas community,” Luzardo said in a post with the fund.

To donate, go to https://www.youcaring.com/familiesofthedouglashighschoolvictims-1101050#....

Susan Slusser is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.

Tags: Oakland Howard TerminalilwuOakland A's Ball Park
Categories: Labor News

In Uganda, unions are helping to drive transport workers into decent work

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 22:44

NEWS
<262e688cc93660d44174673291889c.png>
By Diana Taremwa Karakire
9 February 2018

In Uganda, unions are helping to drive transport workers into decent work

https://www.equaltimes.org/in-uganda-unions-are-helping-to#.WoWf-qjwaUm

Three years ago, Samuel Mugisha almost quit his job. As the driver of a motorbike taxi (known locally as a boda-boda) in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, rampant police harassment was having a huge, negative impact on his daily earnings. But today, Samuel is thriving as a member of the 38,000-member Kampala Metropolitan Boda-Boda Association (KAMBA).

Launched in January 2014, the association is one of the newest members of Uganda’s oldest trade union, the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers’ Union (ATGWU), which today is leading the drive to represent informal transport workers and help secure decent work for all of its members.

After decades of ever-declining numbers of formal transport workers, the ATGWU is on the up. It now has close to 60,000 members, with the significant intake of informal transport workers such as minibus taxi drivers, bicycle taxi drivers and boda-boda drivers giving the union a new lease of life.

"It hasn’t been easy. Many hurdles stood in the way of this formalisation, but we have covered a lot of ground so far," says Usher Wilson Owere, the national chairman of the ATGWU. "The journey is still long but we are taking one step at a time."
Since it was founded in 1938 as the Uganda Motor Drivers Association, the ATGWU has faced various hurdles, but perhaps the biggest threat to its existence came from the plummeting membership numbers that followed the collapse of state-owned passenger road transport services.

Like elsewhere in Africa, the imposition of Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) in Uganda during the mid-1980s resulted in mass job losses, particularly in the public sector. For the ATGWU, large-scale redundancies at the public bus companies that formed the bulk of its membership base decimated the union.

By 2006, things were so bad that membership fell to an all-time low of around 2,000 (mainly airport worker) members.

"After structural adjustment programmes and privatisation, Uganda was [facing] a new form of raw capitalism, in which you were either rubbed out or [you had to] build your own power," explains Owere in a report by the German foundation Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES). It’s titled ’’Transforming transport unions through mass organisation of informal workers: a case study of the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers’ Union (ATGWU), Uganda.’’

Regroup and rebuild

It was at this point, sometime in the mid-2000s, that the ATGWU decided to regroup and rebuild - and the inclusion of informal workers was key to this. Although it wasn’t until 2015 that the International Labour Organization (ILO) adopted the landmark Recommendation 204 to help facilitate the formalisation of the 50 per cent of workers in the world who operate in the informal economy, in 2006 the new ATGWU general secretary, Aziz Kiirya, did just that.

Kiirya knew that in order to regenerate the ATGWU, his trade union would have to organise and represent informal workers - estimates put the number of boda-boda drivers in Kampala alone at anywhere between 100,000 and 250,000, in addition to the capital’s 50,000 minibus drivers - and so he changed the union’s constitution to include them.

"The ATGWU strategy for organising informal economy workers was based on an understanding that these workers are in many cases already organised, not within the trade union movement, but through credit and savings cooperatives, informal self-help groups, community-based organisations, and, most importantly, associations," says the report.
The Airport Taxi Operators Association was the first such association to affiliate with the ATGWU back in 2008, closely followed by a number of other national and regional organisations such as the Long Distance Heavy Truck Drivers Association and the Entebbe Stages and Conductors Association.

For Uganda’s informal transport workers, unionisation has "had a dramatic impact" according to the report, including "a reduction in police harassment, substantial gains through collective bargaining, reduced internal conflict within the associations, and improvement of visibility and status for informal women transport workers".

Kampala’s airport taxi drivers, for example, have secured standardised branding for their taxis, an office and sales counter in the arrivals hall, proper parking facilities, and rest areas, amongst other collective bargaining gains. Meanwhile, other members have benefited from having union membership cards, particularly when crossing borders.

The ATGWU received a major boost in 2013 when the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) launched a project to improve the capacity of unions across Africa, Asia and Latin America to represent informal transport workers.

Key objectives included training organisers and also improving work conditions for women in the sector. The number of women working in the very male-dominated transport sector in Uganda is very small; KOSTA, for example, only has 45 women conductors and just 13 drivers out of a membership of approximately 36,000.

Juliet Muhebwa is one of KOSTA’s female conductors. Although the AGTWU has formed a women’s committee to support the needs of female transport workers, Juliet says they still face the same issues affecting informal women workers across the world, namely long working hours, low pay, dangerous working conditions and the threat of violence, harassment and intimidation.

She describes the attitude towards women working in the sector as "largely negative, which discourages new workers" although the workshops and training has been held by the AGTWU for women workers to deal with some of these issues.

More work to do

In February 2015, the union established the ATGWU Informal Sector Committee, comprising the chairs and secretaries of all the affiliated associations. This has helped the members not only get to know one another but also to improve systems and procedures within their respective organisations.

There is still more work to do but the AGTWU has experience in overcoming major challenges. In 2013, Ugandan authorities passed a law prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people. Although trade unions were officially exempted from the law, in August of that year, police occupied and later shut down the ATGWU’s offices where taxi drivers and conductors had gathered for a meeting the police considered illegal because they weren’t not considered ’workers’.

The ATGWU responded strongly, threatening to call a strike and bring the whole of Kampala to a standstill if the legitimate rights of these workers were not recognised. The ITF even wrote to the Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni and as tensions threatened to escalate, the police backed down and the union called off the strike.

"The confrontation and subsequent victory proved to be a pivotal moment in the organisation of informal workers for the ATWGU," says the report.
"It was not only a victory against police interference in the business of the associations, but against the day-to-day police harassment and extortion suffered by informal transport workers."

But even the ATGWU recognises that it has "only just scratched the surface" of what still needs to be done, ranging from the huge number of people still in the informal economy to tackling the reluctance of white collar unions to accept informal economy members as workers of equal standing.

At present, affiliated association members still do not enjoy full union membership and a lack of voting rights deprives informal workers of the right to fully participate in trade union activities. There are a number of barriers preventing this: for example, full ATGWU members must pay 2 per cent of their salary in union dues. This poses a very real problem for informal workers who experience daily income fluctuations - many don’t even have bank accounts.

"We are members but in a way we are more outsiders," says Juliet, the bus conductor. "We want to be brought closer. It’s the only way we will get more empowered."

The reform of the ATGWU constitution to ensure the total integration of informal workers into the ATGWU was a key topic at the 2017 Quinquennial Delegates Conference of the ATGWU.

But for informal workers like Frank, the difference being affiliated to the AGTWU has made to his life has been huge.

"Previously, almost half of my earnings were going into bribing police officers to let me operate. That pressure is off my back now," says the 32-year old father-of-three.
Because he is able to save more money, Frank says he can now pay his children’s school fees. He has also been able to help his wife start a grocery business to supplement their household income.

"I was more pessimistic about the future three years ago," he says while leaning on his crimson-red bike. "Now I see better times ahead".

Tags: Uganda transport workersAmalgamated Transport and General Workers’ Union (ATGWU)
Categories: Labor News

A day in the life of a United Airlines flight attendant, who woke up before 3 a.m. and ran circles around me for 9 hours

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 16:21

A day in the life of a United Airlines flight attendant, who woke up before 3 a.m. and ran circles around me for 9 hours
http://www.businessinsider.com/flight-attendant-united-airlines-day-in-t...

"You could give me a million dollars, and it wouldn't be better than one day here," our flight attendant says.Rachel Gillett/Business Insider

Robert "Bingo" Bingochea is a Denver-based flight attendant for United Airlines who commutes to work from his home in Phoenix and back.
Bingochea has been a flight attendant with United for seven years and previously worked in the airline industry in other capacities.
Though he says every day on the job is different, we joined him on a trip from Denver to Houston and back to capture what a day in the life of a flight attendant might look like.

It's 3 a.m., and I'm jolted awake by the ring of the hotel phone.

The bright red numbers on the clock next to me are the only thing that illuminate my pitch-black hotel room, and I groan as I roll over and steal another five minutes of sleep.

When I checked into the hotel at 10:30 the night before and asked for my wake-up call, the front desk clerk was horrified to hear how little sleep I'd be getting.

"At least I'm getting the 'true' experience," I tell myself. "Flight attendants probably do this all the time."

As it turns out, Robert "Bingo" Bingochea, a 63-year-old who has worked with United Airlines as a flight attendant for seven years, went to bed early that night, and he has already been awake for more than an hour by the time I finally bolt out of bed. He's had his morning coffee, watched some TV news, and checked the weather from his hotel room before I even clicked the lights on in my room.

Like me, Bingochea has also flown in the day before the 5:24 a.m. flight from Denver to Houston.

He's what you call a "commuter" in the airline industry. He's a flight attendant based out of Denver, but he lives in Phoenix with his wife and commutes to Denver and back for each trip he works.

Bingochea got the first flight into Denver the day before our flight, which isn't uncommon for commuters, since flying standby means you aren't guaranteed a seat on the flight you want, and it can sometimes take a full day to get a flight on standby.

I'm shadowing him for the day, and we're to meet at Denver International Airport to begin our journey together.

View As: One Page Slides
As our flight will begin boarding at 4:50 a.m., I arrive at the airport at 4 a.m. I'm scheduled to meet Bingochea at United's In Flight area, but before that, we both need to go through airport security.
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
Just my luck, getting through TSA security takes me longer than I expected. I must remove my shoes, take all electronics out of my bag and place them, exposed, in the screening bin. And, since I wear some medical devices, I'm treated to a full pat down and tested for bomb residue.

Bingochea, on the other hand — and other flight attendants flying through Denver International — goes through an expedited TSA screening, a process that usually takes less than a minute.

Bingochea has packed enough clothes — rolled, of course — and supplies to last at least four days. "You want to be ready for everything," he tells me. "Anything can happen."
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
Apart from the essentials like extra underwear and t-shirts, medication, and clothing, he also takes a couple trinkets with him: A pink, rubber frog that was his daughter's when she was younger always goes around the world with him, as well as his Vietnam Veteran cap, which commemorates his time as a medic in the U.S. Army during Vietnam.

In general, Bingochea doesn't pack a lunch. He'll bring some snacks with him, but he opts not to eat while he's working — it makes him sluggish — and instead budgets enough money to try the different cuisines of where he's traveling.

As a passenger, you won't ever see United's operations station. With the swipe of my handler's United Airlines ID badge, we take an elevator up to the fourth floor, home of United's conference rooms, HR and IT departments, and Inflight Services.
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
During check in, he lets the staff know he's physically there and ready to go. "They cover their bases because the plane has to be out," he says. "You can't be late. You can't be looking for coffee. You have to be there on time."
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
If you're not, United has other flight attendants on standby at the airport as "ready reserves" who will step in if needed. The lounge is their temporary home while they wait to see if they're called for duty. It's equipped with plenty of comfy couches and a darkened sleeping room should flight attendants want to nap …
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
... 
As well as TVs with flight times, plenty of outlets for charging phones, and a red phone for scheduling. Crew other than those on ready reserve sometimes also use the lounge and sleeping rooms, including "lounge lizards," commuters who don't have anywhere in town to stay between trips and need a place to crash for the night.
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
There's also a grooming area with toiletries, irons, and steamers. Though flight attendants aren't officially checked for uniform and grooming compliance before flights, Bingochea recalls a recent instance when he leaned in for a hug with a United executive, who discreetly said to him, "You look good. Get rid of that pocket square."
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
Bingochea says he loves the uniforms and is excited that flight attendants get new ones every few years. "I always like wearing my uniform. I like to make myself available to people," he says. "If people see you in uniform, they'll often say, 'Can I ask you a question?'"
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
After check in, we head to the gate, and Bingochea scans his United ID to board the plane.
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
Once Bingochea and his fellow crew members have boarded the plane and stowed their baggage, it's time for the pre-flight briefing. Apart from addressing logistics and procedures, the crew can also get to know each other a little better during pre-flight briefings, as they likely haven't traveled together before.
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
Captain Bob tells the crew that our flight will be two hours and two minutes, so we should arrive at the gate eight minutes early.

It's standard security on this flight, so nobody "special" — meaning people like air marshals, secret service, or federal flight deck officers, who carry weapons — will be on board, and cabin crew will have to rely on able-bodied passengers for help in an emergency.

There won't be any in-flight meals available — just snacks for purchase and beverages.

And — "thankfully" (it's usually stressful for all involved) — no live animals will be on board this flight.

Finally, Bob reminds the cabin crew to let him know if anything out of the ordinary jumps out at them during boarding.

It's time for the flight attendants to do their preflight checks at their assigned crew stations. For our almost 200-passenger flight, there are four flight attendants, two in the front of the plane and two in the back. Since Bingochea is assigned the FA01 position, he's responsible for checking the emergency equipment at his station in the back galley, in the bathroom, and in the overhead bins at the back of the plane.
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
Bingochea also checks the door to ensure it has sufficient pressure should we need to evacuate. He says that, every once in a while, the FAA will take something out of the airplane to see if flight attendants are checking everything thoroughly.
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
Flight attendants are trained to know every position, Bingochea says. Once you've achieved a certain level of seniority, you can bid for certain trips and positions — although he chooses not to. He says changing positions all the time helps keeps him on his toes, and he doesn't have a preference for class, either. "People are people, whether they're in first class or economy," he says.
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
While Bingochea performs his checks, his back-galley partner, Kristine, who is working the FA02 position, checks the galley to make sure food, drinks, and other items are on board and stowed properly.
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
Bingochea and his coworkers have a great deal of information for and about passengers right at their fingertips. If passengers want to upgrade to economy plus during boarding, for example, Bingochea can easily accommodate the request using a proprietary app on his handheld device called Link. He can also use the Link app to check each passenger's reservation, including whether they have a connecting flight they need to make, as well as their flier status, and he also uses the app for food and drink sales.
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
If something does go wrong, Bingochea says flight attendants are empowered with resolution options, from offering a free drink or meal to updating fliers and giving them more points. "We can't fix everything, but at least we can try to give it a chance and try to make things acceptable," he says.
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
Once the doors close, Bingochea and his fellow flight attendants are finally on the clock. In a series of calls, the head flight attendant lets the rest of the cabin crew and the first officer know that the cabin is ready, the doors are armed, the plane is ready to push back from the gate, and approximately how long the taxi will be.
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
When a passenger gets up to use the bathroom, Bingochea alerts the flight deck.

"Once the aircraft starts moving, there's always the fear of someone falling down, and we're in that position of liability if we don't let the captain know," he says.

Once the passenger exits the bathroom, Bingochea gives the flight deck the all clear to start moving.

"Communication is everything here," Bingochea says. "It has to be paramount, because, as Mr. Munoz said years ago, a series of small mistakes is the beginning of a big mistake."

At this point, it's time for a quick pick-me-up. And, yes, Bingochea drinks the airplane coffee.
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
After a safety briefing and a final check to see if seat belts are fastened and personal items are stowed properly, the plane is ready for take off. The captain alerts flight attendants to be seated for departure.
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
During take off, he says his mind goes to a different place.

"You go through the different situations that can happen in your head," he says.

According to Bingochea, protocol for different emergency situations are embedded in flight attendants from day one of training so that, in an emergency, they don't have to think about it. "It's just there," he says.

Somehow, Bingochea and his colleagues glide up and down the aisles with ease. As I clumsily follow him around for the day, I find it almost impossible not bump into passengers, and I bang my knee hard on an armrest at least once.
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
As the plane levels off, Bingochea and Kristine prepare the beverage cart, shuffling around each other and the bar cart in the tiny box that is the galley. Since most passengers are sleeping, they anticipate a fairly easy service of coffee, juice, and water in no more than 20 minutes. On busier day-time flights, it can take an hour to get to all the passengers.
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
As the plane reaches cruising altitude, Bingochea makes his way through the aisles with drinks, greeting every passenger like an old friend. "We don't know why our customers are going where they're going," he says. "They're traveling, they're on their way to a funeral, they're going for business, going to weddings. We have the whole world on our plane. You make a big difference when you interact with people. People will remember you, either by what you did or what you didn't do."
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
While Bingochea and I are chatting, a passenger interjects, "You're one of the nicest flight attendants I've ever met." To Bingochea, moments like these are everything. "When I hear things like that, that tells me I have a value to this company," he says.
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
At one point during service, Bingochea asks me how I'm feeling.

As someone who appreciates her sleep, I'm honest: "I feel exhausted," I say. "How do you feel?"

"I could go another 12 hours," he tells me.

Baffled, I ask him how this could be.

"You either want to be here or you don't," he responds. It's the people, he says, that keep him going.

It takes a certain kind of person to be energized by other people. They're what you would call extroverts. It may not be a required skill for the job, but it certainly helps in Bingochea's case.

"This job will test your skills with people. It's not for everybody," he says. Even he has bad days, he admits.

But, he says, "Coming here, you regroup and re-instill your faith in yourself and your fellow man."

And if you can't manage it? "Every time we lose somebody, there are 100 people waiting for this job," Bingochea says.

Once we're below 10,000 feet — which is indicated with a ding everyone aboard the plane can hear — we've entered final descent, and everything has to be buttoned up. Flight attendants make sure the galley is secure, instructing passengers to put their tray tables up, fasten their seatbelt, and return their seats to their upright positions.
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
They also perform another safety check in preparation for landing.

"We always go through these silent drills in our mind so, should something happen, we're ready to take on this challenge," Bingochea says.

Final descent is also considered a "sterile period," meaning the flight deck is concentrating on landing the plane, and cabin crew are not to communicate with them during this time.

Once we land and all passengers are off the plane, is time to head to the next gate. This trip is what you would call a quick turn, meaning there's little time between arriving at the airport and heading back out to the skies.
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
Bingochea's crewmates sprint ahead of us so they can get to Starbucks before our next flight. "If you've been through the airports enough times, you know where you have to be and how long it takes to get there," he says.
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
During our march through the airport, Bingochea — in full uniform — gets quite a few looks from passengers and is instantly recognized by an old friend. "This, to me, is the best part of the industry, because you have so much exposure," he says.
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider
"Once you set foot in this airport, you belong to United," he says. Bingochea explains that you represent the company and the industry any time you put on the uniform, and that visibility comes with a lot of responsibility. "If planes break down, if weather happens, you're on duty, and you're here for the duration of your trip, whether it be a quick turn or three days or four days," he says. "You want to do your job, and do it the best you can."
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider

Tags: Flight AttendantUALcommutingairline workers
Categories: Labor News

New York & Atlantic Railway Railway Workers Sue, Citing Discrimination and Low Pay

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 15:24

New York & Atlantic Railway Railway Workers Sue, Citing Discrimination and Low Pay
Whenever federal or state rail inspectors showed up, they said, supervisors ordered those who had climbed the fence to hide, sometimes yelling that “federales” had arrived.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/14/nyregion/railway-workers-lawsuit-disc...
By COLIN MOYlNIHANFEB. 14, 2018
Photo

Edison Gutierrez is one of 18 men who filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against New York & Atlantic Railway, its parent company, Anacostia Rail Holdings Company, and three officials.CreditLaylah Amatullah Barrayn for The New York Times
For more than a year, Mario Pesantez said he was told to report to work by climbing over a tall, chain-link fence that separates the streets of Glendale, Queens, from a yard used by his employer, the New York & Atlantic Railway.

Once inside he joined a group of Mexican, Ecuadorean and Dominican men who said they routinely spent 12- to 14-hour shifts working on sections of the Long Island Rail Road that New York & Atlantic had leased to transport freight. The men said they righted derailed trains, maintained switches and cut thick railroad ties, earning much less than white co-workers while being denied safety equipment and training.

Whenever federal or state rail inspectors showed up, they said, supervisors ordered those who had climbed the fence to hide, sometimes yelling that “federales” had arrived.

“We felt embarrassed,” Mr. Pesantez said, speaking through a Spanish-language translator as he sat at a table with a dozen other former New York & Atlantic workers. “We felt ashamed, we felt humiliated.”

On Wednesday, 18 men who said they worked for New York & Atlanticbetween 2010 and 2016 filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court in Manhattan accusing the railway, its parent company, Anacostia Rail Holdings Company, and three officials of discriminating against and underpaying employees who they believed to be immigrants. In addition, the lawsuit said, the company obstructed a train crash investigation by keeping the men away from federal inspectors.

The suit seeks class-action certification and a declaration that the defendants violated New York City’s Human Rights Law, New York State labor laws and the Federal Employers Liability Act. It also asks for minimum wage and overtime pay, damages for physical injuries and pain and suffering, and a court order forbidding repetition of the alleged actions.

Michael D. Hall, a lawyer for New York & Atlantic, provided a statement from the railway denying the lawsuit’s “unsubstantiated, uncorroborated, and unsupported allegations” and maintaining the company has followed all federal, state and local regulations.

“These allegations are baseless and without merit,” the statement said, adding that while contractors and employees maintained rail lines and equipment “the individuals making these employment claims were never N.Y.A.R. employees, and as such, their claims are directed at the wrong party.”

Photo

Antonio Adame held what he said was a fabricated certification card provided by New York & Atlantic Railway, a freight transport company where he worked, asserting that he met the railroad’s regulations.CreditLaylah Amatullah Barrayn for The New York Times
Kristina Mazzocchi, a lawyer for the workers, rejected the argument that her clients were not employees. They worked full time and were paid weekly, in cash, she said. Their labor benefited New York & Atlantic, she said, and they were hired, fired, disciplined and directed by railway supervisors.

“They were treated as if they were disposable,” she added. “They were subjected to deplorable health and safety conditions.”

The suit raises questions about practices at New York & Atlantic, which has been criticized in the past by federal investigators and elected officials over its record of complying with regulations

The suit raises questions about practices at New York & Atlantic, which has been criticized in the past by federal investigators and elected officials over its record of complying with regulations.

The railway began operating in 1997 after the L.I.R.R. decided to privatize freight operations on its lines, which are part of the country’s busiest commuter railroad system. Today New York & Atlantic transports 30,000 carloads a year of construction material, food, waste and other items over about 270 miles of tracks that stretch from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, to Montauk, on the eastern tip of Long Island.

A 20-year contract that the railway, then known as the Southern Empire State Railroad Company, signed in 1996 called for payments totaling $12.7 million over 20 years to the L.I.R.R. plus fees tied to track usage and switch maintenance. The freight railway agreed to maintain the tracks it uses and said that all “employees, agents and contractors” would adhere to laws and regulations.

The agreement was to be renewed for 10 years at a cost of $15.7 million provided that New York & Atlantic was not in “material breach” of the contract and maintained a safety record equal to or better than the national industry average for the three years before a notice to renew.

L.I.R.R. officials said they received figures from the Association of American Railroads, a trade group, showing that New York & Atlantic’s safety record was better than average from 2011 to 2013, the three years before the railway sent a renewal notice. But the railway came under scrutiny in 2015 after a train went through three crossings before the gates that block vehicles had been lowered, then plowed into a tractor-trailer in Queens, sparking a fire and causing minor injuries.

Federal investigators later issued a report concluding that New York & Atlantic had allowed engineers to operate locomotives without proper documentation that they were qualified under federal regulations. During the inquiry, the railway failed to produce requested records that regulations say should be “readily provided,” according to the report by the Federal Railroad Administration.

Photo

Franklin Lopez, a railway worker, said he was ordered to squeeze beneath derailed cars in an effort to place them back onto the track.

CreditLaylah Amatullah Barrayn for The New York Times
By the time the report was issued, New York & Atlantic’s contract had been renewed. In 2016, Thomas F. Prendergast, then the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees the L.I.R.R., said the contract could be reconsidered in light of the federal findings, according to Newsday, but it has remained in effect. Still, L.I.R.R. officials said they have insisted that New York & Atlantic implement a review of its safety practices and compliance with regulations.

A spokesman for the L.I.R.R. declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The workers’ lawsuit claims New York & Atlantic had a two-tiered system of full-time employees: nonimmigrants and others whom the lawsuit described as being “of indigenous or Afro Dominican ethnicity” and “perceived immigrants.”

The second group, the lawsuit said, was hired from Home Depot parking lots and told to enter the rail yard by scaling a fence instead of through a gate. Those workers, the suit added, were given a segregated and substandard changing area, subjected to racial slurs and denied protective equipment and training while working for unlawfully low pay in dangerous conditions.

Workers said that they installed and repaired rails, used chain saws to remove trees felled by storms and sprayed herbicides and pesticides. Several workers said they were not instructed how to properly use tools. Some said they watched YouTube videos to learn how to perform certain tasks.

Workers were sometimes hurt, suffering a traumatic brain injury, impaired vision and rashes, the lawsuit said. The suit also accused New York & Atlantic of failing to report on-the-job injuries to the Federal Railroad Administration as required.

The workers said that they were paid $120 for shifts that sometimes lasted 24 hours or longer. On multiple occasions, the lawsuit said, workers were forced to hide from federal inspectors among trees, in trucks or in a locked trailer as supervisors shouted “the federales are here, run!”

Two workers, Antonio Adame and Edison Gutierrez, said that though they received no meaningful instruction, New York & Atlantic supervisors issued them credentials stating that they were “qualified.”

Mr. Adame said that he witnessed one co-worker slice into his own leg with a chain saw and another lose fingers while using a piece of equipment to pull a misplaced railroad spike. Two workers, Armando Gutierrez and Franklin Lopez, said that supervisors ordered them to squeeze beneath derailed cars as part of an effort to place them back onto the rails.

“We had to crawl under the train,” Mr. Gutierrez said. “I was afraid it would crush me.”

Tags: Railroad workersdiscriminationhealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

Trump administration wants to sell National and Dulles airports, other assets around U.S. in privatization

Mon, 02/12/2018 - 11:00

Trump administration wants to sell National and Dulles airports, other assets around U.S. in privatization drivehttps://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/trump-administr...

People gather in Gravelly Point Park as an aircraft prepares to land at Reagan Washington National Airport. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
By Michael Laris February 12 at 12:42 PM Email the author
The Trump administration is making a push to sell off federal assets as part of its infrastructure plan released Monday.

Among the targets: Reagan National and Dulles International airports and two major parkways serving the Washington region, as well as power assets around the country, according to a copy of the proposal.

Power transmission assets from the Tennessee Valley Authority; the Southwestern Power Administration, which sells power in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas; the Western Area Power Administration; and the Bonneville Power Administration, covering the Pacific northwest, were cited for potential divestiture. The Washington Aqueduct, which supplies drinking water in D.C. and Northern Virginia, also is on the list.

“The Federal Government owns and operates certain infrastructure that would be more appropriately owned by State, local, or private entities,” the Trump plan says. It calls for giving federal agencies “authority to divest of Federal assets where the agencies can demonstrate an increase in value from the sale would optimize the taxpayer value.”

The Washington region’s George Washington Memorial Parkway and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, both run by the National Park Service, are listed as “examples of assets for potential divestiture.” It was not immediately clear what public or private entity might buy those roads, whether they might be tolled, or other details. Same with the two airports in Virginia, which are leased from the federal government.

The Trump proposal is consistent with an overall $200 billion infrastructure initiative, a year in the making, that is focused on speeding up permitting by reducing environmental regulations, and trying to prompt state and local governments and private industry to spend more on projects without making major new federal investments.

[Trump advisers call for privatizing some public assets to build new infrastructure]

Some state officials said they were uncertain about how their residents would benefit from such a proposal. Federal assets come with crucial federal dollars that could not easily be replaced, officials said.

“All I can see now is a federal obligation that they're trying to push off. Where would we get the money from without a revenue source?” asked Virginia Finance Secretary Aubrey Layne.

Layne, an accountant and former transportation secretary, said numerous unanswered questions make it impossible to gauge the administration’s proposal at this point.

“I don’t even know what’s being sold — I don’t mean just physical, I mean obligations,” Layne said. “What level of funding? Is the federal government just going to wash their hands of it?”

Administration officials said Saturday that the $200 billion in planned federal spending on its infrastructure plan is meant to spur some $1.5 trillion in activity overall. Some critics on Capitol Hill have dismissed the administration’s math and the thrust of its approach, and pointed to cuts in infrastructure spending long proposed by the administration, which also released its budget request Monday.

Efforts to privatize federal assets were discussed early in the administration by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, National Economic Council director Gary Cohn and other advisers as a preferred way to come up with capital for much needed improvements. But it was also lambasted as irresponsible by opponents.

A high-profile Trump effort to move the nation’s air traffic control system out of government hands was blocked in Congress.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Tags: privatizationairportsunion bustingNational AirportDulles Airport
Categories: Labor News

Pages