Current News

Subscribe to Current News feed
Updated: 2 hours 23 min ago

The Critical Role of Internationalism In Workers Struggles With Bob Carnegi MUA Queensland & IDC

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 12:18

The Critical Role of Internationalism In Workers Struggles With Bob Carnegi MUA Queensland & IDC
https://youtu.be/vgtZqnpMxI0
Bob Carnegi who is Secretary of the Maritime Union Of Australia MUA Queensland Branch and a representative of the International Dockworkers Council IDC spoke at the founding conference of the Workers Solidarity Action Network WSAN. It was held on October 7, 2017 at UAW Local 551 in Chicago.
For more media:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNbvWfS1HYs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmTbfEhDWPQ
For more information:
https://www.facebook.com/events/371406356586798/
Production of
Labor Video Project
www.laborvideo.org

Tags: MUAQueensland MUAworkers strugglesdemocracy
Categories: Labor News

What Taxi and Uber Drivers Really Think About the Ride-Sharing Boom

Tue, 10/24/2017 - 10:33

What Taxi and Uber Drivers Really Think About the Ride-Sharing Boom
http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/20624/Traxi-Uber-Lyft-ride-share-a...

FRIDAY, OCT 20, 2017, 4:25 PM

BY TEKE WIGGIN

Yellow Cab driver Asterfo Payano stands in front of his car. (Teke Wiggin)

Tony Cobain, a recent college graduate in Washington, D.C., drives part-time for Lyft and Uber, so he can support himself while he pursues a career in entertainment. Along the way, he’s built his network and even snagged the occasional date.

Ride-hailing apps have been less kind to New York City yellow cab driver Asterfo Payano: He says he works harder and still earns much less than he did five years ago.

And Raul Rivera, a full-time New York Lyft and Uber driver, calls his job a “modern form of slavery.”

Ride-hailing apps have brought a new level of convenience to many consumers and provided new work opportunities. But these benefits have often come at the expense of full-time drivers’ wages and job stability. Both traditional taxi drivers and ride-hailing drivers are feeling increasingly squeezed.

Whether there’s room for improvement in this tradeoff depends on whom you ask. Many workers are pushing for a fairer deal, but some consumers and drivers, particularly part-timers, are leery of stricter regulation or driver unionization. Aggressive campaigning by ride-hailing companies has helped fuel opposition to such measures.

“The problem is that we haven’t figured out how to appropriately regulate ridesharing yet, so that we can capture the benefits without enabling all these harms,” Brishen Rogers, a labor law professor at Temple University, told In These Times.

“[Ride-hailing apps] are able to ensure that customers never have a very long wait or a very high cost for a ride,” Rogers said. However, he added, “the convenience is coming at the cost of a decent standard of living for drivers.”

“I just do this to get Twitter followers”

Cobain typically works for Uber and Lyft from 3:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. four days a week, earning around $28 an hour after the cost of gas, he says.

The 23-year-old said he doesn’t have to worry about paying for maintenance and car insurance, because he uses his parents’ car. And he’s also covered by their health insurance plan.

The part-time work has allowed Cobain to build a music video company and a non-profit that makes films for people who suffer from debilitating mental illnesses.

“I don’t want to keep asking parents for money and stuff,” he said. “I kind of use both of these platforms to fund my business ventures, and whatever is left over is gas and Whole Foods money.”

Plus, he says he has turned many of his passengers into fans.

“This is how you get girls,” one female passenger teased him after she proposed drinks. “I was like, ‘no, no. I just do this to get Twitter followers.’”

There’s no doubt that ride-hailing apps have made it easier and cheaper to hire a driver.

But like many “sharing-economy” companies, ride-hailing services “are really providing services to Yuppies,” Rogers argues.

Hard times for drivers

Meanwhile, full-time drivers like Payano, a 70-year-old yellow cab driver with 12 years of experience, are paying a price.

He shuttles passengers around Manhattan from 5:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. six days a week, earning $14 an hour on a good day, after expenses. That’s down from roughly $20 an hour five years ago, before Uber caught on, according to Payano

“I have to work a lot harder,” he said. “I can’t afford to take three breaks in the day. I take one.”

But even though times are tough, Payano and some of his peers say it still beats working for Lyft or Uber.

“I can see my income is going low, low, less, less,” said MD Asadullah, another New York City yellow cab driver. “If I go Uber, it will be way less.”

Indeed, long gone are the days when Uber and Lyft drivers could often make a killing, many drivers and analysts say (although Cobain might beg to differ).

Flooding the market with drivers while continually hacking away at fees hasn’t only squeezed taxis: Uber and Lyft drivers must compete more for passengers while earning less from each ride, said Rogers, the Temple University professor.

Ride-hailing drivers today earn roughly half the hourly wage that they did five years ago, reckons Harry Campbell, an industry expert who publishes the blog The Rideshare Guy.

On average, Uber drivers bring in $15.68 per hour and Lyft drivers $17.50 per hour before expenses, according to a survey of more than 1,000 drivers that Campbell conducted with help from researchers at Stanford University. After expenses, those figures likely fall by $4 or $5, according to Campbell.

“They [ride-hailing companies] aren’t saying, ‘Hey, you’re going to make as much as a McDonald’s cashier,’ but that’s turning out to be the situation for many drivers and maybe even a majority of drivers,” he said.

Asked about allegedly worsening conditions for full-time drivers, Lyft spokesman Scott Coriell said that the company has extended economic opportunities that didn’t previously exist to hundreds of thousands of people.

Lyft is “constantly working to help drivers succeed,” he added, pointing to the company’s introduction of tipping, same-day payments and “low-cost [car] rentals.”

Uber declined to comment for this article.

"I don’t like regulations, but sometimes they’re necessary"

Ride-hailing companies may profess a commitment to their drivers. But it doesn’t feel that way to Raul Rivera, a full-time Uber and Lyft driver who says he has been treated like a serf.

About a year ago, he signed a lease-to-own contract for an expensive SUV so he could provide higher-paying luxury rides.

Soon after, Uber instituted a new policy that required drivers to have a customer satisfaction rating of at least 4.8 to give luxury rides, he said. The driver’s rating fell short, so his investment has backfired.

He must work 70 hours a week to eke out $700 in profit (which works out to $10 an hour), and he said he is shackled by his lease.

The government should increase minimum fares and restrict the number of drivers, he said: “I don’t like regulations, but sometimes they’re necessary.”

Collective bargaining on the horizon?

Encouraging collective bargaining would be another way to protect drivers, although the fact that they tend to be classified as contractors makes formally unionizing “incredibly difficult,” Rogers said.

The App-Based Drivers Association, a Teamsters-affiliated group for Seattle ride-hailing drivers, and the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA) are among organizations that have successfully pushed for better working conditions for drivers.

But the drivers they represent don’t have traditional collective bargaining rights. That could change in Seattle if a law that was passed in 2015 to allow taxi and ride-hailing drivers to formally unionize can survive legal challenges.

In addition to legal barriers, resistance from part-time drivers, who might see unions as a threat to the work flexibility afforded by ride-hailing apps, could prove an obstacle to collective bargaining, according to Campbell. Some Seattle drivers have spoken out against unionization, and a handful have sued the city to try to prevent it.

“They’re not as invested,” Campbell said. “For them to join a union is a much bigger ask.”

Representing the majority of ride-hailing drivers, part-time drivers benefit most from the ability to set their own hours, and they are less sensitive to price cuts and policy changes, according to Campbell, the publisher of the Ride Share Guy blog.

“The messaging that comes out from the app-based companies is more one of fear, telling them that somehow by collective bargaining… they’re going to lose flexibility, and nothing could be further from the truth,” said Leonard Smith, director of organizing and strategy at Teamsters Local 117, which hopes to negotiate contracts for Seattle taxi and ride-hailing drivers.

"The drivers are going to win eventually"

Cobain, who began driving for Uber and Lyft less than six months ago, says he’s heard Lyft and Uber don’t pay as well as they used to, and some drivers ask him how he can make the numbers work.

He says he drives early in the morning to cash in on “surge pricing,” when Uber and Lyft boost fares amid high demand and low driver supply.

For now, the work is a leg for him to stand on while he pursues his passions.

“I would oppose a union,” he said. “I actually prefer it the way it is. More flexibility.”

Labor activist Jonathan Rosenblum thinks such an attitude can change, having watched different groups of drivers find common cause in Seattle.

“I’m confident that the drivers are going to win eventually, and then Uber and the other companies are going to have their day of reckoning of having to sit down with the drivers and negotiate the terms of their work,” he told In These Times. “And that is a good thing.”

TEKE WIGGIN
Teke Wiggin covers labor, economic inequality and housing. Follow him at @tkwiggin.

Tags: UberregulationTaxi
Categories: Labor News

What Taxi and Uber Drivers Really Think About the Ride-Sharing Boom

Tue, 10/24/2017 - 10:33

What Taxi and Uber Drivers Really Think About the Ride-Sharing Boom
http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/20624/Traxi-Uber-Lyft-ride-share-a...

FRIDAY, OCT 20, 2017, 4:25 PM

BY TEKE WIGGIN

Yellow Cab driver Asterfo Payano stands in front of his car. (Teke Wiggin)

Tony Cobain, a recent college graduate in Washington, D.C., drives part-time for Lyft and Uber, so he can support himself while he pursues a career in entertainment. Along the way, he’s built his network and even snagged the occasional date.

Ride-hailing apps have been less kind to New York City yellow cab driver Asterfo Payano: He says he works harder and still earns much less than he did five years ago.

And Raul Rivera, a full-time New York Lyft and Uber driver, calls his job a “modern form of slavery.”

Ride-hailing apps have brought a new level of convenience to many consumers and provided new work opportunities. But these benefits have often come at the expense of full-time drivers’ wages and job stability. Both traditional taxi drivers and ride-hailing drivers are feeling increasingly squeezed.

Whether there’s room for improvement in this tradeoff depends on whom you ask. Many workers are pushing for a fairer deal, but some consumers and drivers, particularly part-timers, are leery of stricter regulation or driver unionization. Aggressive campaigning by ride-hailing companies has helped fuel opposition to such measures.

“The problem is that we haven’t figured out how to appropriately regulate ridesharing yet, so that we can capture the benefits without enabling all these harms,” Brishen Rogers, a labor law professor at Temple University, told In These Times.

“[Ride-hailing apps] are able to ensure that customers never have a very long wait or a very high cost for a ride,” Rogers said. However, he added, “the convenience is coming at the cost of a decent standard of living for drivers.”

“I just do this to get Twitter followers”

Cobain typically works for Uber and Lyft from 3:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. four days a week, earning around $28 an hour after the cost of gas, he says.

The 23-year-old said he doesn’t have to worry about paying for maintenance and car insurance, because he uses his parents’ car. And he’s also covered by their health insurance plan.

The part-time work has allowed Cobain to build a music video company and a non-profit that makes films for people who suffer from debilitating mental illnesses.

“I don’t want to keep asking parents for money and stuff,” he said. “I kind of use both of these platforms to fund my business ventures, and whatever is left over is gas and Whole Foods money.”

Plus, he says he has turned many of his passengers into fans.

“This is how you get girls,” one female passenger teased him after she proposed drinks. “I was like, ‘no, no. I just do this to get Twitter followers.’”

There’s no doubt that ride-hailing apps have made it easier and cheaper to hire a driver.

But like many “sharing-economy” companies, ride-hailing services “are really providing services to Yuppies,” Rogers argues.

Hard times for drivers

Meanwhile, full-time drivers like Payano, a 70-year-old yellow cab driver with 12 years of experience, are paying a price.

He shuttles passengers around Manhattan from 5:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. six days a week, earning $14 an hour on a good day, after expenses. That’s down from roughly $20 an hour five years ago, before Uber caught on, according to Payano

“I have to work a lot harder,” he said. “I can’t afford to take three breaks in the day. I take one.”

But even though times are tough, Payano and some of his peers say it still beats working for Lyft or Uber.

“I can see my income is going low, low, less, less,” said MD Asadullah, another New York City yellow cab driver. “If I go Uber, it will be way less.”

Indeed, long gone are the days when Uber and Lyft drivers could often make a killing, many drivers and analysts say (although Cobain might beg to differ).

Flooding the market with drivers while continually hacking away at fees hasn’t only squeezed taxis: Uber and Lyft drivers must compete more for passengers while earning less from each ride, said Rogers, the Temple University professor.

Ride-hailing drivers today earn roughly half the hourly wage that they did five years ago, reckons Harry Campbell, an industry expert who publishes the blog The Rideshare Guy.

On average, Uber drivers bring in $15.68 per hour and Lyft drivers $17.50 per hour before expenses, according to a survey of more than 1,000 drivers that Campbell conducted with help from researchers at Stanford University. After expenses, those figures likely fall by $4 or $5, according to Campbell.

“They [ride-hailing companies] aren’t saying, ‘Hey, you’re going to make as much as a McDonald’s cashier,’ but that’s turning out to be the situation for many drivers and maybe even a majority of drivers,” he said.

Asked about allegedly worsening conditions for full-time drivers, Lyft spokesman Scott Coriell said that the company has extended economic opportunities that didn’t previously exist to hundreds of thousands of people.

Lyft is “constantly working to help drivers succeed,” he added, pointing to the company’s introduction of tipping, same-day payments and “low-cost [car] rentals.”

Uber declined to comment for this article.

"I don’t like regulations, but sometimes they’re necessary"

Ride-hailing companies may profess a commitment to their drivers. But it doesn’t feel that way to Raul Rivera, a full-time Uber and Lyft driver who says he has been treated like a serf.

About a year ago, he signed a lease-to-own contract for an expensive SUV so he could provide higher-paying luxury rides.

Soon after, Uber instituted a new policy that required drivers to have a customer satisfaction rating of at least 4.8 to give luxury rides, he said. The driver’s rating fell short, so his investment has backfired.

He must work 70 hours a week to eke out $700 in profit (which works out to $10 an hour), and he said he is shackled by his lease.

The government should increase minimum fares and restrict the number of drivers, he said: “I don’t like regulations, but sometimes they’re necessary.”

Collective bargaining on the horizon?

Encouraging collective bargaining would be another way to protect drivers, although the fact that they tend to be classified as contractors makes formally unionizing “incredibly difficult,” Rogers said.

The App-Based Drivers Association, a Teamsters-affiliated group for Seattle ride-hailing drivers, and the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA) are among organizations that have successfully pushed for better working conditions for drivers.

But the drivers they represent don’t have traditional collective bargaining rights. That could change in Seattle if a law that was passed in 2015 to allow taxi and ride-hailing drivers to formally unionize can survive legal challenges.

In addition to legal barriers, resistance from part-time drivers, who might see unions as a threat to the work flexibility afforded by ride-hailing apps, could prove an obstacle to collective bargaining, according to Campbell. Some Seattle drivers have spoken out against unionization, and a handful have sued the city to try to prevent it.

“They’re not as invested,” Campbell said. “For them to join a union is a much bigger ask.”

Representing the majority of ride-hailing drivers, part-time drivers benefit most from the ability to set their own hours, and they are less sensitive to price cuts and policy changes, according to Campbell, the publisher of the Ride Share Guy blog.

“The messaging that comes out from the app-based companies is more one of fear, telling them that somehow by collective bargaining… they’re going to lose flexibility, and nothing could be further from the truth,” said Leonard Smith, director of organizing and strategy at Teamsters Local 117, which hopes to negotiate contracts for Seattle taxi and ride-hailing drivers.

"The drivers are going to win eventually"

Cobain, who began driving for Uber and Lyft less than six months ago, says he’s heard Lyft and Uber don’t pay as well as they used to, and some drivers ask him how he can make the numbers work.

He says he drives early in the morning to cash in on “surge pricing,” when Uber and Lyft boost fares amid high demand and low driver supply.

For now, the work is a leg for him to stand on while he pursues his passions.

“I would oppose a union,” he said. “I actually prefer it the way it is. More flexibility.”

Labor activist Jonathan Rosenblum thinks such an attitude can change, having watched different groups of drivers find common cause in Seattle.

“I’m confident that the drivers are going to win eventually, and then Uber and the other companies are going to have their day of reckoning of having to sit down with the drivers and negotiate the terms of their work,” he told In These Times. “And that is a good thing.”

TEKE WIGGIN
Teke Wiggin covers labor, economic inequality and housing. Follow him at @tkwiggin.

Tags: UberregulationTaxi
Categories: Labor News

Chicago CTA Rail Transit Workers Signal Trouble Ahead

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 14:27

Chicago CTA Rail Transit Workers Signal Trouble Ahead
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARts1Zjcn-4

Published on Oct 12, 2017Chicago’s Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308 (rail) members and officers are telling the public about their fight for a fair contract. On October 5, 2017 they leafleted and spoke with sympathetic transit riders at the big Howard Street Red Line transit hub on the north side. Working without a contract now for over a year, they may have to strike. Interviews with CTA switchmen, railmen, flagmen, trainmen.

Labor Beat is a CAN TV Community Partner. Labor Beat is a non-profit 501(c)(3) member of IBEW 1220. Views are those of the producer Labor Beat. For info: mail@laborbeat.org, www.laborbeat.org. 312-226-3330. Labor Beat, 37 S. Ashland Ave., Chicago, IL 60607. For other Labor Beat videos, visit YouTube and search "Labor Beat". On Chicago CAN TV Channel 19, Thursdays 9:30 pm; Fridays 4:30 pm. Labor Beat is a regular cable-tv series in Chicago, Rockford, Urbana, IL; Philadelphia, PA; Princeton, NJ; Cambridge, MA.

Tags: Chicago CTAATU 308strikeno contract
Categories: Labor News

Chicago CTA Rail Transit Workers Signal Trouble Ahead

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 14:27

Chicago CTA Rail Transit Workers Signal Trouble Ahead
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARts1Zjcn-4

Published on Oct 12, 2017Chicago’s Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308 (rail) members and officers are telling the public about their fight for a fair contract. On October 5, 2017 they leafleted and spoke with sympathetic transit riders at the big Howard Street Red Line transit hub on the north side. Working without a contract now for over a year, they may have to strike. Interviews with CTA switchmen, railmen, flagmen, trainmen.

Labor Beat is a CAN TV Community Partner. Labor Beat is a non-profit 501(c)(3) member of IBEW 1220. Views are those of the producer Labor Beat. For info: mail@laborbeat.org, www.laborbeat.org. 312-226-3330. Labor Beat, 37 S. Ashland Ave., Chicago, IL 60607. For other Labor Beat videos, visit YouTube and search "Labor Beat". On Chicago CAN TV Channel 19, Thursdays 9:30 pm; Fridays 4:30 pm. Labor Beat is a regular cable-tv series in Chicago, Rockford, Urbana, IL; Philadelphia, PA; Princeton, NJ; Cambridge, MA.

Tags: Chicago CTAATU 308strikeno contract
Categories: Labor News

Canadian USWA Local 1014 Taxi union renews call for safety measures after 'brutal' attack on driver

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 13:47

Canadian USWA Local 1014 Taxi union renews call for safety measures after 'brutal' attack on driver

http://ht.ly/CUXB30g1ZAP

ALEX MACPHERSON, SASKATOON STARPHOENIX
Published on: October 19, 2017 | Last Updated: October 19, 2017 6:00 AM CST
The union representing Saskatoon’s taxi drivers called on city council to reopen a debate on driver safety after a “brutal” attack by a passenger left a cabbie with severe bruising to the face over the weekend.

“With three recent, serious incidents against drivers, the time to act is now,” United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1014 president Malik Draz said in a statement, referring to the beating late Friday night and two unrelated incidents in March.

“We must work together to legislate protective equipment and ensure that the violent perpetrators are held criminally accountable for these assaults.”

The latest attack happened around 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 13 after a Comfort Cabs driver picked up a man and two women on 22nd Street and they started fighting and “becoming belligerent,” according to Saskatoon police spokeswoman Julie Clark.

The driver, whose name was not released, told the passengers to get out of the vehicle but they refused, Clark said in an email. At that point, the driver and a 20-year-old man stepped out of the vehicle and “a physical altercation” ensued, Clark wrote.

The suspect fled but was soon found, arrested and charged with assault. The remaining two passengers were arrested and subsequently released. The driver suffered “minor injuries” and was checked out by paramedics at the scene, according to Clark.

Draz’s call to re-open the debate comes months after city administrators, in response to a request from USW Local 2014, said safety shields designed to separate drivers from passengers should be optional because taxis already have sufficient safety equipment.

The union subsequently requested council’s standing committee on transportation consider the installation of flashing amber lights on taxis, which can be used to signal an emergency. The committee referred the request to administrators.

“These assaults are not isolated incidents and these three attacks are just the ones that were reported,” USW staff representative Mike Pulak said. “Many drivers face verbal and physical assaults. City hall needs to take action to improve their working conditions now.”

amacpherson@postmedia.com
twitter.com/macphersona

Tags: USWA 1014Saskatoon's tax driversracismxenophobiaimmigrant workers
Categories: Labor News

Canadian USWA Local 1014 Taxi union renews call for safety measures after 'brutal' attack on driver

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 13:47

Canadian USWA Local 1014 Taxi union renews call for safety measures after 'brutal' attack on driver

http://ht.ly/CUXB30g1ZAP

ALEX MACPHERSON, SASKATOON STARPHOENIX
Published on: October 19, 2017 | Last Updated: October 19, 2017 6:00 AM CST
The union representing Saskatoon’s taxi drivers called on city council to reopen a debate on driver safety after a “brutal” attack by a passenger left a cabbie with severe bruising to the face over the weekend.

“With three recent, serious incidents against drivers, the time to act is now,” United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1014 president Malik Draz said in a statement, referring to the beating late Friday night and two unrelated incidents in March.

“We must work together to legislate protective equipment and ensure that the violent perpetrators are held criminally accountable for these assaults.”

The latest attack happened around 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 13 after a Comfort Cabs driver picked up a man and two women on 22nd Street and they started fighting and “becoming belligerent,” according to Saskatoon police spokeswoman Julie Clark.

The driver, whose name was not released, told the passengers to get out of the vehicle but they refused, Clark said in an email. At that point, the driver and a 20-year-old man stepped out of the vehicle and “a physical altercation” ensued, Clark wrote.

The suspect fled but was soon found, arrested and charged with assault. The remaining two passengers were arrested and subsequently released. The driver suffered “minor injuries” and was checked out by paramedics at the scene, according to Clark.

Draz’s call to re-open the debate comes months after city administrators, in response to a request from USW Local 2014, said safety shields designed to separate drivers from passengers should be optional because taxis already have sufficient safety equipment.

The union subsequently requested council’s standing committee on transportation consider the installation of flashing amber lights on taxis, which can be used to signal an emergency. The committee referred the request to administrators.

“These assaults are not isolated incidents and these three attacks are just the ones that were reported,” USW staff representative Mike Pulak said. “Many drivers face verbal and physical assaults. City hall needs to take action to improve their working conditions now.”

amacpherson@postmedia.com
twitter.com/macphersona

Tags: USWA 1014Saskatoon's tax driversracismxenophobiaimmigrant workers
Categories: Labor News

Puerto Rico and the Jones Act Conundrum

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 09:09

Puerto Rico and the Jones Act Conundrum
https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/10/23/puerto-rico-and-the-jones-act-co...
by JACK HEYMAN

OCTOBER 23, 2017

When Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20, the whole transportation and communication infrastructure went down- the power grid, bridges, roads, cell towers- devastating the entire island. Most people are still without the basic necessities of life, a month later. Emergency logistics are dysfunctional and telephone service barely exists.

FEMA’s bumbling for one month has looked like a rerun of a Keystone Cops movie. Although the marine terminals were loaded with commercial cargo since before the hurricane, there was no way for workers to reach the port facilities nor power to operate the port safely. Day after day cargo sat idle as people’s desperation for water, food and life-saving medicine mounts. The early death toll was 48, but NPR has reported an additional 49 deaths since the storm and Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Reporting found 69 hospitals had morgue at “capacity” as isolated towns and villages are reached the death toll will climb.

The Jones Act Under Attack……Anew

Often when a major accident occurs the mainstream media are quick to blame workers. However, in the case of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, many liberals and leftists have joined in the union bashing charging the Jones Act, which is supported by maritime unions, with stopping vital shipments of aid. While it may be true that Jones Act cargo may cost more, it is not true that the Act (which requires that shipping between U.S. ports be in U.S.-registered vessels) is preventing necessary aid from reaching the people. However, no such protectionist U.S. laws, including the Jones Act, should be imposed on the colony of Puerto Rico, and that goes for the U.S. imperialist embargo on trade with Cuba and trade sanctions on Venezuela and Russia as well.

The fact is there are plenty of U.S. bottoms to sail to the island. The Maritime Administration (MARAD) and the Department of Defense (DOD) manage 300 commercial vessels. And there are 4 Jones Act shipowners, Horizon, Sea Star, Crowley and Trailer Bridge that operate 5 container vessels and 12 barges on the Puerto Rico trade.

The blame for the lack of transportion and distribution of vital goods lies squarely with the U.S. government and its colonial oppression of Puerto Rico.

The Jones Act may pass on higher prices to an impoverished colonial people and that should not be, but there is another aspect to this question. Some of the most reactionary forces of the U.S. ruling class are trying to use the Puerto Rican hurricane relief crisis to get rid of the Jones Act, not because it would aid Puerto Rico but because it provides jobs for shipbuilders and seamen in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Much left opposition to the Jones Act comes from ignorance of the law and a knee jerk reaction to appear “anti-imperialist”. What it shows is their disconnect with the working class and blindness toward the capitalists’ machinations.

Capitalists and their news media often claim that good union wages cost the public higher prices. That’s the mantra of Walmart and the non-union big box stores who extol their “virtues” of the profit system. The danger is that this cacophony, unwittingly supported by “progressives”, could lead to repeal of the entire U.S. Jones Act, a longtime campaign of the right wing, anti-union National Review, Senator John McCain and most of the Wall Street banksters.

The 1920 Merchant Marine Act or the Jones Act as it is known was promulgated to protect the American shipbuilding and seafaring industries.

The Jones Act does not include the territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands nor should it include the colony of Puerto Rico. Both should be independent. However, it should remain intact for the continental U.S. Calling to free Puerto Rico from the restrictions of this U.S. cabotage law is part of the struggle for independence, but to call for abolition of the Jones Act in the U.S would mean the destruction of maritime unions and the loss of hard-won union jobs.

A Colony Faces Natural Catastrophe & Imperial Oppression

Today, the colony of Puerto Rico is in debt $70 billion dollars and is basically bankrupt. The island just sustained damage from Hurricane Maria up to $95 billion dollars, according to Moody’s Analytics. While President Trump has offered Puerto Rico a loan of $9.4 billion dollars, the state of New Jersey was granted $50 billion in emergency federal aid after Hurricane Sandy. But Puerto Rico is a colony.

U.S. army veteran Ricardo Ortiz a patient in the VA Hospital in San Juan warns “American troops, just like in Haiti a few years ago after the earthquake there, are not here in Puerto Rico to aid the people. They are an imperialist occupying force and no imperialist army can free a colonized nation. ” Blackwater, the murderous military security firm, is patrolling the streets of San Juan. Ortiz went on to say that barrios in his hometown, Caguas, are self-organizing humanitarian efforts to clean the streets, distribute and share food, drinking water and medicines. The demand should be raised for all U.S. forces, including the private security firm Blackwater, out of Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico is run by the Control Board set up by Obama in 2016 under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA). Puerto Ricans on the island didn’t vote for this Control Board just as they have no congressional representation or right to vote for president. It is a colony under naked imperialist rule. The 10 day waiver of the Jones Act has ended. It must be extended and Puerto Rico excised from it.

Yet, blaming the Jones Act is really a diversion. The real capitalist drive is for privatization. That gem is the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), the largest publicly-owned utility in U.S.-controlled territory. With 90% of the electric grid down, the “green” capitalist Elon Musk offered to help rebuild the electric grid (and bulk up his profits). And Governor Rosello, the comprador bourgeois politician, suggested Musk make this his “flagship” project.

Both Democrat and Republican parties support the colonization of Puerto Rico and U.S. imperialist war policies. Their neo-liberal capitalist privatization schemes have targeted for years anything public, i.e. schools, prisons, social security. Many leftists oppose privatization of PREPA but support abolition of the Jones Act which would effectively eliminate U.S. merchant marine jobs as companies would use foreign flag registry to avoid union contracts.

Why were leftists silent 25 years ago when the Puerto Rican government-owned Navieras de Puerto Rico which owned several ships was privatized and sold to the North American capitalists, Bankers Trust? The ships were later sold to Sea Star Line, a joint venture of Saltchuck (45%), Matson (45%), and Taino (10%), the Puerto Rican “pitiyanqui” capitalists. Saltchuck moved aggressively to buy out Matson.

Higher shipping rates on the Puerto Rico run were due, not to the Jones Act per se, but to actual price-fixing. In 2008, six executives of Saltchuck’s Sea Star Line, Crowley Maritime and Horizon Lines, all involved in the Jones Act trade of Puerto Rico were sentenced to prison for conspiring to fix ocean freight rates and cargo allocations. They incurred criminal fines, legal expenses and settlements of $100 million. Now, Saltchuck’s Sea Star Lines and Crowley Maritime are each building two new Jones Act containerships for the lucrative Puerto Rico trade.

In 2015, Saltchuck’s rush for profit drove its Tote Maritime ship, El Faro, into the eye of Hurricane Joaquin en route from Jacksonville to San Juan resulting in the loss of the entire crew of 33. The U.S. Coast Guard, in the pocket of the maritime companies, blamed the hapless captain who went down with his ship and couldn’t defend himself.

The Downside of the Jones Act

The contradiction in the Jones Act is that while it provided fertile grounds for union organizing, other motivations were national security and protectionism. Two seminal acts during the anti-communist McCarthy period made that clear by introducing toxic policies, one for foreign policy the other domestic. Both opened the floodgates for union-busting runaway flag ships. The anti-Soviet Marshall Plan began the process of transferring U.S. merchant vessels to registration in other countries like Greece, part of a campaign to encircle the Soviet Union and the Soviet Bloc countries. U.S. financing of anti-communist parties and trade unions was well known in Europe, especially in France and Italy where the left led mass parties of the working class. It’s no wonder that charges of Russia interfering in recent American elections are met with laughter and derision in those countries.

The second dose of toxicity was the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, called the slave labor bill by unions. Aside from forcing workers on strike back to work, it banned reds from holding union office and made sympathy strikes illegal, all essential building blocks of the labor movement. On top of that the Coast Guard screened thousands of maritime workers from ships and ports, branding them communists. Many of them were black and brown, including Puerto Ricans and Jamaicans. A couple years before the crew of a merchant ship organized by the Communist-influenced National Maritime Union (NMU) sent President Truman a telegram protesting their transport of French soldiers back to Vietnam to recolonize that country. That was the first U.S. protest against the imperialist war in Vietnam.

The evisceration of the maritime unions was complete when militants of all stripes were purged by union officials-turned-finks like Joe Curran, president of the NMU. What began as a trickle of runaway flag ships with foreign registry became a flood. The Jones Act only protected coastwide trade not trade union jobs. But by then the deep sea unions were left defenseless with no militants to organize internationally.

The West Coast ILWU was the only maritime union to remain unscathed by the anti-red terror and became a haven for many who were purged from other unions. It was the only maritime union to have opposed U.S. imperialist wars from the Korean War to the Middle East. On May Day 2008, the longshore union shutdown all West Coast ports to demand an end to the imperialist wars. ILWU even called for Puerto Rican independence and opposed the U.S. using the island of Vieques as a military target practise.

Retired longshoreman Jose Ojeda Jimenez, like his father before him, worked in the port of San Juan. He identifies himself as a proud ”independentista and socialista” who opposes the Jones Act being imposed on Puerto Rico. A member of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) Local 1575 he fought within his union for years against a discriminatory practise that denied Puerto Rican locals equal benefits like the pension and Container Royalty. Those benefits are provided for all longshoremen in the Master Contract, but shamefully not for those in the colony of Puerto Rico. ILA locals, especially the predominantly African American locals in the Southeast and Gulf ports, should demand equal treatment for all longshore union members.

U.S. Stops International Humanitarian Aid to Puerto Rico

An offer of teams of doctors and medical aid from Cuba was made to Puerto Rico, but President Trump has denied the humanitarian aid and continues to ramp up the illegal blockade of Cuba. Venezuela President Maduro pledged a “special plan of support and solidarity” assumed to be donated petroleum. That too has been rejected. Why? Venezuela is the majority owner of CITGO which maintains state-of-the-art refineries in Texas. Russia’s state-owned Rosneft owns 49.9% of CITGO and U.S. sanctions against both countries are what sank that offer of aid. Likewise, the Hess Oil refinery on the U.S. territorial island of St. Croix adjacent to Puerto Rico, and half-owned by the Venezuela government was closed in 2012. At the time it was the largest petroleum refinery in the world. Its shuttering reeks of U.S. imperial designs in the Caribbean.

Hostile relations against Russia, Cuba and Venezuela didn’t start with Trump. The U.S., has attempted to militarily overthrow the government in each of those countries: Russia (U.S. Expeditionary Force 1918-1920), Cuba (Bay of Pigs 1961) and Venezuela (U.S.-backed military coup 2002). Vietnam is a big exporter of rice to Cuba. Shipping rice to Puerto Rico would not be in violation of the Jones Act, however it could jeopardize relations with the U.S. that Vietnam has been cultivating through the TransPacific Partnership (TPP).

United Socialist Islands of the Caribbean

Perhaps the arrogant imperial disdain for the plight of the working people of Puerto Rico will stir the cauldron of their desire for freedom and independence. That struggle must transcend the narrow confines of U.S. bourgeois democracy which even denies that Puerto Rico is a colony while the comprador bourgeoisie is besotted with their imperialist American partners. A revolutionary Puerto Rican socialist movement, the embers of which were seen in the celebration of the release of Puerto Rican freedom fighter Oscar Lopez Rivera after 36 years in prison, could rise up with the call for independence and reach out to the working class in the Virgin Islands, Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti and Trinidad and forge a united socialist islands of the Caribbean.

Jack Heyman (jackheyman@mac.com) is chair of the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee www.transportworkers.org and a retired longshoreman who writes on labor politics and history.

Tags: Puerto RicoJones ActILA
Categories: Labor News

Ford Owned SF Chariot Bus Service Using Drivers Without Proper Training-IBT Supporting Privatization of Transportation in SF With Chariot To Get New Members

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 06:58

Ford Owned SF Chariot Bus Service Using Drivers Without Proper Training-IBT Supporting Privatization of Transportation in SF With Chariot To Get New Members
Chariot, an app-enabled private bus service owned by Ford Motor Company

CHP inspections revealed some Chariot drivers drove without proper licenses

http://www.sfexaminer.com/chp-inspections-revealed-chariot-drivers-drove...

Regulators ordered private bus service Chariot to cease operations in California last Wednesday. Now, records obtained by the San Francisco Examiner reveal why.

On three separate California Highway Patrol inspections, at least seven Chariot drivers were found to be driving without Class B licenses, which certify them to drive buses, according to inspection documents obtained by the Examiner in a public records request.

CHP inspectors traditionally review a sample of all vehicles, leaving open the possibility of more drivers without proper licenses. Chariot did not respond to requests for comment.

CHP spokesperson Sgt. Rob Nacke said those inspections revealed some of Chariot’s drivers were driving with Class C licenses instead of Commercial Class B licenses — a violation of California law.

“We trust you are aware of the seriousness of this situation and will take immediate action to correct the deficiencies,” CHP Capt. L. M. Bishop wrote to Chariot CEO Ali Vahabzadeh in an Aug. 27 letter obtained by the Examiner.

The letter outlines meetings between the CHP and Chariot where they were warned non-compliance would result in the California Public Utilities Commission suspending Chariot’s authority to operate.

Though the distinction in licenses may seem minor, the Teamsters union, which recently organized Chariot’s 215 Bay Area drivers, said the expertise is important.

“We are deadly serious about those laws,” said Doug Bloch, political director with Teamsters Joint Council 7, which represents thousands of Teamsters statewide.

Chariot, a jitney service that’s accessible by smartphone app, falls under regulatory oversight by the CPUC and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. The SFMTA passed new regulations for Chariot last Tuesday, which requires wheelchair accessibility and data reporting for its 14-passenger vans.

“Our board voted to establish new local requirements to ensure that current and future private transit services operate in a way that is safe,” SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said.

Those new regulations take effect in November.

Last Thursday, however, Chariot abruptly ceased operations, leaving its 3,000 to 4,000 customers in San Francisco stranded — all for want of licenses.

Commercial Class B licenses show training has been attained in driving vehicles more than 26,000 pounds, or a three-axle vehicle weighing over 6,000 pounds, farm labor vehicles, or — crucially in this case — buses.

A Class C license is the one most everyday commuters carry in their wallets, allowing drivers behind the wheels of sedans and similar sized vehicles.

The CHP inspections of Chariot’s vehicles on the road in Napa in October 2016, as well as inspections of Chariot’s 95 Minna St. bus yard in March and August 2017, all found violations, according to inspection records obtained by the Examiner.

CHP inspected 20 vehicles and found one violation in 2016, according to an inspection document, and gave Chariot an “unsatisfactory rating.”

In the March inspection, the CHP found two violations out of 20 inspections.

In August, however, the CHP found its most drivers without licenses to date, as five of the drivers inspected were without Class B licenses, according to inspection documents.

Chariot did not ask for reviews of the CHP inspections.

When the Teamsters organized Chariot’s drivers in May, “this is something we found out,” Bloch said, of the need for Chariot’s drivers to attain Class B licenses. The Teamsters organized a license training program in San Francisco that operates Monday through Thursdays.

“The very first order of business for the union after we organized the workers was to educate them with Class B licenses,” Bloch said. “We did that before we organized the contract.”

Chariot paid for the training courses, Bloch said.

Ford Pushing Transit Privatization In San Francisco With Chariot
“This company is another one of these companies based on ‘We’re going to break the law, and go to city government to ask for forgiveness,’” said Sue Vaughan, who sits on the SFMTA’s citizen advisory council and has been a staunch critic of private transit services.
Vaughan has catalogued Chariot vehicles double parking to let out passengers, blocking Muni buses and engaging in other “scofflaw” behavior in dozens of photographs.
http://www.sfexaminer.com/new-sf-jitney-rules-ban-chariot-competing-dire...
New SF jitney rules ban Chariot from competing directly with Muni
Chariot, an app-enabled private bus service owned by Ford Motor Company, is the only company of its kind operating in The City. (Daniel Kim/Special to S.F. Examiner)
By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez on September 14, 2017 1:00 am
San Francisco jitney vans are set to see historically new regulations.Proposed rules to govern private transit vehicles — essentially buses run by companies — will go before the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors for a vote at their next meeting Tuesday.
The new rules, if approved, will be instated 30 days after the meeting and apply to any private transit service working explicitly within San Francisco. Only one such company exists right now — the app-enabled bus service, Chariot.
Among this new legal framework is a clause addressing a chief public concern: Private transit will be banned from replicating Muni routes.
“These regulations would require any new route does not duplicate Muni service,” said Alex Jonlin, an SFMTA transportation analyst, at a media briefing on the rules Wednesday.
Much of Chariot’s existing network replicates Muni Express and Rapid bus routes aimed at downtown workers. Those routes will be “grandfathered in,” Jonlin said.
New private transit routes that match Muni routes “75 percent” or more will not be allowed, Jonlin said, along with other requirements.
Exceptions would be made for routes that mimic Muni lines outside of its service hours, or connect to regional transit (except on Market Street), or serve substantially different stops.
The move to essentially cut off direct competition between private and public buses is one among many concerns the SFMTA will address with the new regulatory framework. Additionally, private transit companies will be required to share GPS data of its vehicles, ridership numbers, register for California Highway Patrol vehicle inspections, bolster safety training and provide equal access for people with disabilities.
The program will cost $250,000 annually to administer, according to the SFMTA, which will be recovered nearly entirely through administrative fees to Chariot. State law requires SFMTA only recoup the costs of such a program.
Chariot would not comment directly on the regulations, and said it would continue working with the SFMTA. Ford Motor Company bought Chariot, a startup, late last year. The sale price was not disclosed, but Business Insider cited sources who pinned the sale at “more than” $65 million.
Private jitney buses have operated on San Francisco streets for as long as automobiles have existed. Jitneys ferried San Franciscans to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915, and many Muni lines today run on former private bus lines.
However, private jitney service declined in the 1970s. At the time, jitneys were loosely regulated through a patchwork of laws at the San Francisco Police Department and elsewhere.
“Our big concern is public safety,” Kate Toran, head of SFMTA taxi services, said of creating new rules for jitneys in San Francisco.
The rules come after neighbors have complained of Chariot vehicles double parking, stopping in Muni bus stops and blocking driveways, according to the SFMTA.
The public made 62 complaints through email or 311 about Chariot and other private transit services, which are now defunct, since September 2015, according to the SFMTA. There have been 28 complaints in 2017 alone.
“This company is another one of these companies based on ‘We’re going to break the law, and go to city government to ask for forgiveness,’” said Sue Vaughan, who sits on the SFMTA’s citizen advisory council and has been a staunch critic of private transit services.
Vaughan has catalogued Chariot vehicles double parking to let out passengers, blocking Muni buses and engaging in other “scofflaw” behavior in dozens of photographs.
San Francisco State University geography professor Jason Henderson, who focuses on urban transportation, said even if Chariot is not allowed to compete with Muni, the regulations don’t go far enough.
“The City needs to be asking a soul searching question — is private transit really the right way to do things?” he said.
Though Henderson admits some San Franciscans simply don’t want to use Muni, either because they complain it’s too dirty, too crowded, or not as comfortable as hopping on a Chariot van, he said that’s beside the point.
Henderson added that two different modes of transit, a luxury option for those who can afford it, and a public option that faces possible disinvestment, doesn’t reflect San Francisco values.
“I think the solution is for those kinds of people to get over themselves,” he said.

Tags: IBTPublic TransitChariotFord
Categories: Labor News

Activists in Puerto Rico Want The Jones Act Eliminated-So Why Are Unions Defending It?

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 06:39

Activists in Puerto Rico Want The Jones Act Eliminated-So Why Are Unions Defending It?
http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/20615/puerto_rico_jones_act_unions...
BY KATE ARONOFFPRINT

After Hurricane Maria, many in Puerto Rico have renewed calls to eliminate the Jones Act. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

In the aftermath of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico, an obscure law governing maritime commerce has grabbed national headlines: The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, known colloquially as the Jones Act. After facing political pressure and at the request of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, on September 28, President Trump issued a 10-day waiver of the Act to ease shipping regulations on the island. That waiver expired last week.

Many in Puerto Rico, along with members of the Puerto Rican diaspora living on the U.S. mainland, argue that the statue is stifling aid by presenting an unnecessary barrier to the procurement of basic relief supplies. Maritime unions, meanwhile, contend that the measure is essential for protecting seafaring workers.

So what is the Jones Act? What does it do? And what other factors might be getting in the way of supplies reaching Puerto Ricans?

What the Jones Act does and doesn’t do

The Jones Act stipulates that only U.S.-flagged ships can operate between U.S. ports, so any American goods coming into Puerto Rico via U.S.-governed ports have to arrive on U.S.-flagged, U.S.-made ships. This mandate prioritizes the use of American ships and workers, and inhibits foreign shipping companies’ access to inter-U.S. shipping routes.

Passed on the heels of World War I, the measure, named for its sponsor, Rep. Wesley Jones (R-Wash.), was intended to ensure that America would thrive in maritime commerce and be full of seafaring men in case they were needed for another war.

The law includes provisions protecting seafarers’ rights, requiring ships transporting goods between U.S. ports to abide by the maritime labor laws and environmental standards outlined in the Jones Act.

Foreign-flagged vessels from foreign ports are not prevented from docking in Puerto Rico, only from shuttling goods from the mainland to the island. The law also doesn’t mandate that imported goods bound for Puerto Rico pass through a mainland port first.

The Jones Act doesn’t apply to goods shipped between the mainland and the U.S. Virgin Islands, but does apply to goods shipped between the mainland and Puerto Rico. By comparison, U.S.-made goods on the Virgin Islands are about half as expensive as they are in Puerto Rico.

The case against the act

Well before Hurricane Maria, the Jones Act was blamed for driving up the cost of living in Puerto Rico, where groceries are as much as 21 percent more expensive than on the mainland. In 2011, the U.S. Transportation Department Maritime Administration found that day-to-day operating costs were 2.6 times higher on U.S. ships compared to international vessels, and that labor costs could be as much as 5 times higher.

On the island and off, a waiver of the Jones Act has been a mainstay of demands for relief and recovery packages, both to ease the flow of goods after the storm and for long-term reconstruction.

“If Maria is enough to get us out of that, that would be amazing,” says Sofía Gallisá Muriente, an artist and organizer from Puerto Rico who was also active in Occupy Sandy before moving back home to San Juan from New York City four years ago. “That’s the best thing that could come of this storm, but I don’t know if we could pull that off. The most I think we could get would be a waiver for a year.”

Among those calling for a permanent lifting of the Jones Act for Puerto Rico is the Climate Justice Alliance, a network of climate justice groups in the United States with ties to several labor unions, but not the National Maritime Union, whose members would be most affected by a permanent lifting of the law. The network held a Day of Action on Wednesday, October 11 to call attention to their list of demands, including full debt relief and a transparent decision-making process around the distribution of aid resources, among other things.

After the Day of Action event in New York, Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of Uprose, a New York City-based group and member of the Climate Justice Alliance, told In These Times, “To have the waiver because they want to make the sipping industry happy at the expense of the lives of the Puerto Rican people is an international disgrace.”

Asked about maritime unions’ concerns over lifting the Jones Act, Yeampierre, herself Puerto Rican, says, “It can’t just be about their pay and their resources right now, because climate change is coming for all of us. Justice is not one of those things you can parse. When I have a labor dispute it’s not about getting justice for my people but no one else.”

Why unions and shipping companies like it

Maritime unions have mounted their defense of the Jones Act on the basis that it protects seafaring workers and well-paid American jobs. “The Jones Act is one way to insure that vessels operating between U.S. ports respect fair labor standards and don’t exploit seafarers,” Craig Merrilees, Communications Director for the International Longshore & Warehouse Union, told In These Times.

To get around strict labor standards in the United States and elsewhere, ship owners may adopt a practice known as “re-flagging,” or registering a vessel in a country—say Liberia or Panama—with lax worker protections. Flying under so-called “Flags of Convenience” is a way for maritime operators to exploit workers on their ships, who are especially vulnerable to mistreatment due to their dependence on employers during extended trips at sea.

By preventing this evasion, Merrilees says, “the Jones Act is an important protector of decent working conditions and good-paying jobs for seafarers in the shipping industry. Crews on U.S. flagged ships rarely experience anything like the terrible abuse and exploitation often found on vessels flying a flag of convenience.”

The Jones Act has created a somewhat counterintuitive set of political alliances: Shipping companies like it for the access it gives them to U.S. ports and make hay about its importance to national security, while maritime unions want to defend the workplace protections it provides. At the same time, opponents of the Jones Act make the case that the law unfairly drives up the cost of living in Puerto Rico, which is already higher than on the mainland by virtue of the island being largely dependent on imports. Then there are the politicians such as John McCain and free market think-tanks including the Heritage Foundation, that have lobbied against the bill on anti-regulatory, anti-labor grounds.

The scale of disaster

While the politics surrounding the Jones Act remain thorny, several other factors also impede the flow of aid to Puerto Rican residents—including the Trump Administration itself.

President Trump threatened on Twitter last week to disband federal relief efforts on the island entirely. An official statement later clarified that “successful recoveries do not last forever.” Reports in the weeks since the storm have told of shipping containers stranded at ports due to downed logistics networks and government mismanagement, and even goods being confiscated at the San Juan airport after being flown in on commercial planes.

Gallisá Muriente dealt with similar issues after Hurricane Sandy, struggling to procure aid for some of the hardest-hit parts of New York City, albeit on a different scale. “That was a big lesson for me from Sandy: That there’s no such thing as a natural disaster,” she says. “It’s really the human disasters that complicate things—social conditioning, priorities, bureaucracy. And it doesn’t work to go back to normal when that normal was also problematic.”

Already, Gallisá Muriente notes, she and others have put some of the lessons learned in Occupy Sandy to work on the ground, while recognizing that there are major differences between conducting grassroots relief efforts in the Big Apple and on a small, austerity-stricken island.

“There are certain general logistical things that we’ve borrowed from that experience: creating lists of suggested donations, Amazon registries where people can buy specific things that we need,” she says. “The governor keeps saying everything is fine and is talking about all the aid coming in, but no one sees it or feels like things are getting any better.”

Heriberto Martínez-Otero, who teaches economics at a high school in San Juan and at the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, told In These Times via Skype that there are still “5 or 6 municipalities that are incommunicado. Most of the municipalities with communications,” he adds, “don’t have ATMs or open banks. The schools are not open, and the hospitals are without power…except for some areas here in San Juan and some of the privileged suburbs, everything is a complete disaster.”

He also notes issues with the sparse relief efforts that are being administered, mainly by the U.S. government. “FEMA, I don’t know where they are. But the U.S. military are moving around most parts of the island with big guns,” says Martínez-Otero. “These guys think this is a war zone.”

What’s next for the island

Many Puerto Ricans—while recognizing the role the U.S. military plays in disaster relief—are weary of having troops on the ground for the long-term. Speaking to me from his classroom in San Juan, Martínez-Otero says, “On the streets here, in front of the school, this is a military state.”

“I am against the Jones Act,” Martínez-Otero continues, “but I don't know if waiving the Jones Act is the way to solve the current situation we’re in.” He also mentioned that it was hard to tell whether the 10-day waiver had improved conditions on the island, saying that a year-long waiver would likely be necessary in order to improve Puerto Rico’s distribution infrastructure.

Debates around the Jones Act aren’t likely to be resolved in the near future, and certainly not before the Senate moves to vote on the short-term, loan-based aid package for Puerto Rico that the House passed on Thursday. What does seem clear is that the overlapping crises on the island aren’t likely to end anytime soon—and U.S. policy is only helping deepen them.

KATE ARONOFF
Kate Aronoff is a writing fellow at In These Times covering the politics of climate change, the White House transition and the resistance to Trump’s agenda. Follow her on Twitter @katearonoff

Tags: Puerto RicoJones Actshipping
Categories: Labor News

Activists in Puerto Rico Want The Jones Act Eliminated-So Why Are Unions Defending It?

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 06:39

Activists in Puerto Rico Want The Jones Act Eliminated-So Why Are Unions Defending It?
http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/20615/puerto_rico_jones_act_unions...
BY KATE ARONOFFPRINT

After Hurricane Maria, many in Puerto Rico have renewed calls to eliminate the Jones Act. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

In the aftermath of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico, an obscure law governing maritime commerce has grabbed national headlines: The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, known colloquially as the Jones Act. After facing political pressure and at the request of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, on September 28, President Trump issued a 10-day waiver of the Act to ease shipping regulations on the island. That waiver expired last week.

Many in Puerto Rico, along with members of the Puerto Rican diaspora living on the U.S. mainland, argue that the statue is stifling aid by presenting an unnecessary barrier to the procurement of basic relief supplies. Maritime unions, meanwhile, contend that the measure is essential for protecting seafaring workers.

So what is the Jones Act? What does it do? And what other factors might be getting in the way of supplies reaching Puerto Ricans?

What the Jones Act does and doesn’t do

The Jones Act stipulates that only U.S.-flagged ships can operate between U.S. ports, so any American goods coming into Puerto Rico via U.S.-governed ports have to arrive on U.S.-flagged, U.S.-made ships. This mandate prioritizes the use of American ships and workers, and inhibits foreign shipping companies’ access to inter-U.S. shipping routes.

Passed on the heels of World War I, the measure, named for its sponsor, Rep. Wesley Jones (R-Wash.), was intended to ensure that America would thrive in maritime commerce and be full of seafaring men in case they were needed for another war.

The law includes provisions protecting seafarers’ rights, requiring ships transporting goods between U.S. ports to abide by the maritime labor laws and environmental standards outlined in the Jones Act.

Foreign-flagged vessels from foreign ports are not prevented from docking in Puerto Rico, only from shuttling goods from the mainland to the island. The law also doesn’t mandate that imported goods bound for Puerto Rico pass through a mainland port first.

The Jones Act doesn’t apply to goods shipped between the mainland and the U.S. Virgin Islands, but does apply to goods shipped between the mainland and Puerto Rico. By comparison, U.S.-made goods on the Virgin Islands are about half as expensive as they are in Puerto Rico.

The case against the act

Well before Hurricane Maria, the Jones Act was blamed for driving up the cost of living in Puerto Rico, where groceries are as much as 21 percent more expensive than on the mainland. In 2011, the U.S. Transportation Department Maritime Administration found that day-to-day operating costs were 2.6 times higher on U.S. ships compared to international vessels, and that labor costs could be as much as 5 times higher.

On the island and off, a waiver of the Jones Act has been a mainstay of demands for relief and recovery packages, both to ease the flow of goods after the storm and for long-term reconstruction.

“If Maria is enough to get us out of that, that would be amazing,” says Sofía Gallisá Muriente, an artist and organizer from Puerto Rico who was also active in Occupy Sandy before moving back home to San Juan from New York City four years ago. “That’s the best thing that could come of this storm, but I don’t know if we could pull that off. The most I think we could get would be a waiver for a year.”

Among those calling for a permanent lifting of the Jones Act for Puerto Rico is the Climate Justice Alliance, a network of climate justice groups in the United States with ties to several labor unions, but not the National Maritime Union, whose members would be most affected by a permanent lifting of the law. The network held a Day of Action on Wednesday, October 11 to call attention to their list of demands, including full debt relief and a transparent decision-making process around the distribution of aid resources, among other things.

After the Day of Action event in New York, Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of Uprose, a New York City-based group and member of the Climate Justice Alliance, told In These Times, “To have the waiver because they want to make the sipping industry happy at the expense of the lives of the Puerto Rican people is an international disgrace.”

Asked about maritime unions’ concerns over lifting the Jones Act, Yeampierre, herself Puerto Rican, says, “It can’t just be about their pay and their resources right now, because climate change is coming for all of us. Justice is not one of those things you can parse. When I have a labor dispute it’s not about getting justice for my people but no one else.”

Why unions and shipping companies like it

Maritime unions have mounted their defense of the Jones Act on the basis that it protects seafaring workers and well-paid American jobs. “The Jones Act is one way to insure that vessels operating between U.S. ports respect fair labor standards and don’t exploit seafarers,” Craig Merrilees, Communications Director for the International Longshore & Warehouse Union, told In These Times.

To get around strict labor standards in the United States and elsewhere, ship owners may adopt a practice known as “re-flagging,” or registering a vessel in a country—say Liberia or Panama—with lax worker protections. Flying under so-called “Flags of Convenience” is a way for maritime operators to exploit workers on their ships, who are especially vulnerable to mistreatment due to their dependence on employers during extended trips at sea.

By preventing this evasion, Merrilees says, “the Jones Act is an important protector of decent working conditions and good-paying jobs for seafarers in the shipping industry. Crews on U.S. flagged ships rarely experience anything like the terrible abuse and exploitation often found on vessels flying a flag of convenience.”

The Jones Act has created a somewhat counterintuitive set of political alliances: Shipping companies like it for the access it gives them to U.S. ports and make hay about its importance to national security, while maritime unions want to defend the workplace protections it provides. At the same time, opponents of the Jones Act make the case that the law unfairly drives up the cost of living in Puerto Rico, which is already higher than on the mainland by virtue of the island being largely dependent on imports. Then there are the politicians such as John McCain and free market think-tanks including the Heritage Foundation, that have lobbied against the bill on anti-regulatory, anti-labor grounds.

The scale of disaster

While the politics surrounding the Jones Act remain thorny, several other factors also impede the flow of aid to Puerto Rican residents—including the Trump Administration itself.

President Trump threatened on Twitter last week to disband federal relief efforts on the island entirely. An official statement later clarified that “successful recoveries do not last forever.” Reports in the weeks since the storm have told of shipping containers stranded at ports due to downed logistics networks and government mismanagement, and even goods being confiscated at the San Juan airport after being flown in on commercial planes.

Gallisá Muriente dealt with similar issues after Hurricane Sandy, struggling to procure aid for some of the hardest-hit parts of New York City, albeit on a different scale. “That was a big lesson for me from Sandy: That there’s no such thing as a natural disaster,” she says. “It’s really the human disasters that complicate things—social conditioning, priorities, bureaucracy. And it doesn’t work to go back to normal when that normal was also problematic.”

Already, Gallisá Muriente notes, she and others have put some of the lessons learned in Occupy Sandy to work on the ground, while recognizing that there are major differences between conducting grassroots relief efforts in the Big Apple and on a small, austerity-stricken island.

“There are certain general logistical things that we’ve borrowed from that experience: creating lists of suggested donations, Amazon registries where people can buy specific things that we need,” she says. “The governor keeps saying everything is fine and is talking about all the aid coming in, but no one sees it or feels like things are getting any better.”

Heriberto Martínez-Otero, who teaches economics at a high school in San Juan and at the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, told In These Times via Skype that there are still “5 or 6 municipalities that are incommunicado. Most of the municipalities with communications,” he adds, “don’t have ATMs or open banks. The schools are not open, and the hospitals are without power…except for some areas here in San Juan and some of the privileged suburbs, everything is a complete disaster.”

He also notes issues with the sparse relief efforts that are being administered, mainly by the U.S. government. “FEMA, I don’t know where they are. But the U.S. military are moving around most parts of the island with big guns,” says Martínez-Otero. “These guys think this is a war zone.”

What’s next for the island

Many Puerto Ricans—while recognizing the role the U.S. military plays in disaster relief—are weary of having troops on the ground for the long-term. Speaking to me from his classroom in San Juan, Martínez-Otero says, “On the streets here, in front of the school, this is a military state.”

“I am against the Jones Act,” Martínez-Otero continues, “but I don't know if waiving the Jones Act is the way to solve the current situation we’re in.” He also mentioned that it was hard to tell whether the 10-day waiver had improved conditions on the island, saying that a year-long waiver would likely be necessary in order to improve Puerto Rico’s distribution infrastructure.

Debates around the Jones Act aren’t likely to be resolved in the near future, and certainly not before the Senate moves to vote on the short-term, loan-based aid package for Puerto Rico that the House passed on Thursday. What does seem clear is that the overlapping crises on the island aren’t likely to end anytime soon—and U.S. policy is only helping deepen them.

KATE ARONOFF
Kate Aronoff is a writing fellow at In These Times covering the politics of climate change, the White House transition and the resistance to Trump’s agenda. Follow her on Twitter @katearonoff

Tags: Puerto RicoJones Actshipping
Categories: Labor News

Réforme du code du travail : la victoire des dockers October 19, the day of the next demonstration at the call of the CGT.

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 12:36

Réforme du code du travail : la victoire des dockers
October 19, the day of the next demonstration at the call of the CGT.
https://www.francebleu.fr/infos/politique/reforme-du-code-du-travail-la-... Amélie Bonté, France Bleu Normandie (Seine-Maritime - Eure) et France BleuVendredi 13 octobre 2017 à 17:02

Au Havre, près de 2 500 dockers travaillent sur le port © Radio France - Amélie Bonté
La Fédéréation Nationale des ports et docks CGT a obtenu après plusieurs réunions que son accord de branche prime toujours sur les accords d'entreprises, alors que les ordonnances signées mettant en place la réforme du code du travail permettent d'inverser cette hiérarchie des normes.

La réforme du code du travail ne s'appliquera pas aux dockers. En tout cas, une partie de cette réforme, celle qui met en place l'inversion de la hiérarchie des normes dont on a beaucoup parlé et qui a fait bondir les syndicats. La fédération Nationale des ports et docks vient d'obtenir une victoire face au gouvernement : que sa convention collective prime sur les accords d'entreprises.

2.500 dockers concernés au Havre

Les dockers sont en général de toute les manifestations au Havre. Souvent redoutés d'ailleurs par les autorités locales et les acteurs du Port car ils peuvent à eux seuls bloquer facilement la ville et le premier port Français qu'est Le Havre pour le trafic de conteneurs. Ce fût d'ailleurs le cas l'année dernière, régulièrement, durant 4 mois avec la loi El Khomri. C'est donc une victoire pour cette profession, qui annonce par communiqué que sa convention collective primera sur des accords d'entreprises. Pourtant la réforme du code du travail c'est bien l'inverse et le gouvernement a accepté de faire cette exception, au terme de plusieurs réunions entre ministères des transports, du travail et des organisations patronales. Pour justifier cette exception, CGT et gouvernement avancent la spécificité du "monde portuaire" déjà acté via deux textes de lois, en 2008 et en 2015.

Impossible d'avoir une réaction notamment du secrétaire général de la CGT dockers du Havre, à part le communiqué de presse envoyé, ils ont décidé de ne pas répondre aux questions. La réforme du code du travail, en tout cas cette partie là, ce n'est donc pas pour les dockers, en revanche, ils disent vouloir continuer, par solidarité à s'opposer aux ordonnances de la loi travail qu'ils qualifient de "régression sociale". Les dockers devraient donc faire partie des cortèges le 19 octobre, jour de la prochaine manifestation à l'appel de la CGT.

The National Federation of Ports and Docks CGT has obtained after several meetings that its branch agreement always takes precedence over company agreements, whereas the signed ordinances putting in place the reform of the labor code make it possible to reverse this hierarchy of standards.

The reform of the labor code will not apply to dockworkers. In any case, part of this reform, the one that puts in place the reversal of the hierarchy of norms that has been much talked about and that has made the unions jump. The national federation of ports and docks has just won a victory against the government: that its collective agreement takes precedence over company agreements.

2,500 dockers involved in Le Havre

The dockers are generally from all the demonstrations in Le Havre. Often feared by the local authorities and the players of the Port because they can easily block easily the city and the first French port that is Le Havre for the traffic of containers. This was the case last year, regularly, for 4 months with the El Khomri law. It is therefore a victory for this profession, which announces by press release that its collective agreement will take precedence over company agreements. Yet the reform of the labor code is the reverse and the government has agreed to make this exception after several meetings between ministries of transport, labor and employers' organizations. To justify this exception, CGT and government put forward the specificity of the "port world" already registered through two texts of laws, in 2008 and 2015.

Unable to have a reaction from the general secretary of the CGT Dockers of Le Havre, apart from the press release sent, they decided not to answer the questions. The reform of the labor code, in any case this part, is not for the dockers, on the other hand, they say they want to continue, by solidarity to oppose the ordinances of the labor law which they call " regression ". The dockers should therefore be part of the processions on October 19, the day of the next demonstration at the call of the CGT.

Tags: CGTFrench dockers
Categories: Labor News

Could this study explain why DC Metro is losing riders to Uber and Lyft? Downsizing Public Transit Leads To Privatization

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 11:05

Could this study explain why DC Metro is losing riders to Uber and Lyft? Downsizing Public Transit Leads To Privatization
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2017/10/11/could-this...

By Faiz Siddiqui October 11 at 12:00 PM

New data from the D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer shows Uber is often a faster way around the District than Metro. (Mike Blake / Reuters)
Metro is the most efficient means of commuting to and from the D.C. suburbs, but when it comes to intra-city travel — trips beginning and ending in the District — Uber is often the faster way around, according to a new analysis from the D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer. And though ride-hailing is almost always more expensive than public transit, lower-cost pooling options make it nearly as affordable to hail a car in the District as to take Metro, while adding only marginally to travel times.

According to the study, which examined travel times during afternoon rush, the duration of a commute on Metro and Uber is often similar. But variables, such as Metro delays or the night and weekend service reductions so familiar to riders, put the transit system at a disadvantage, while heavier-than-usual traffic can set back ride-hailing users.

Consider this: When the wait for a Metro train is 10 minutes, Uber is the quicker option in 99 of 114 scenarios, according to the research. (During off-peak hours, Metro trains arrive about every 12 minutes; after 9:30 p.m., the frequency is reduced to every 15 to 20 minutes, making a 10-minute wait more likely.) And even during rush hour, when service is at its peak levels, trips that would normally require a transfer on Metro generally favor Uber, according to the analysis.

Still, the study shows, when train service is frequent and reliable, Metro is the fastest way around the region. In a scenario where trains arrived every three minutes — assuming a 10-minute walk to the station — Metro matched or beat out Uber in 67 of 114 trips, according to the analysis. Trains currently arrive every eight minutes across the system, with more frequent service on the Red Line from Grosvenor to Silver Spring.

Metro is fastest for getting to the suburbs. But for travel within the District, or trips requiring a transfer, Uber is often faster and nearly as affordable, according to the study. (Screenshot: D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer).
“Metro is especially efficient for longer trips from downtown to the suburbs that do not require transfers,” the study says.

The comparison solely encompassed Uber because the ride-hailing company has made a trove of data available to city planners that makes its travel times easy to weigh against Metro’s. The app launched in January, Uber Movement, contains travel times and congestion data for select cities. Metro’s travel times were pulled from its online trip planner.

[Uber’s new tool is a glimpse of how much it knows about cities. Planners want the full picture.]

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Metro essentially agreed with the study’s conclusions on long-distance travel but disagreed that the system falls short when it comes to trips within the District.

“While we have not analyzed the report or its assumptions, we agree that Metrorail is often faster and more cost effective than other options,” Metro spokesman Richard L. Jordan said. “In fact, Metrorail’s cost per mile is less than Uber or taxi services, regardless of the trip distance, making it an excellent value.”

In a statement, an Uber spokesman said the ride-hailing service doesn’t see Metro as a competitor.

“Uber has long believed that the Metro is, and will continue to be, the backbone of the region’s transportation system,” the spokesman said. “We are proud to provide first- [and] last-mile options that extend the reach of the public transportation infrastructure hundreds of thousands of Metro commuters rely on every day.”

Researchers said they chose the 114 routes in the analysis because they were common — with a transfer-free trips from Gallery Place or Metro Center to nearly every station in the system. Routes also included trips to common job centers — such as Foggy Bottom and Navy Yard — nightlife hubs such as Shaw, or residential and commercial areas like Columbia Heights. The researchers admit they “purposefully included some trips” where they thought Uber would beat Metro to fully demonstrate the scale of differences in travel times.

Of course, there’s often a simple way to avoid a time-consuming transfer on Metrorail: the bus. Jordan said it was “surprising” that the study didn’t “fully consider” the vast Metrobus network, as buses carry more riders than the rail system in the District — at a cost of $2 per trip.
In fact, the study’s authors did acknowledge that many of the points entailing longer commutes on Metrorail were easily connected by Metrobus.

“With Metro’s spoke-and-hub configuration, it’s not surprising that trips requiring a transfer that have origins and destinations relatively close to each other are quicker in an Uber than on Metro,” the analysis said, noting how the X2 bus, for example, links Union Station and Minnesota Avenue, and the H4 bus connects Columbia Heights and Cleveland Park. “Some folks have their own work-arounds, and might bike between these locations. All of this is to say that even if Uber is faster than Metro for trips with a transfer, there are other modes of transit a person can use to make this sort of trip.”

Uber was often the faster option for trips within the District. Here are the 10 routes where Uber is fastest compared to Metro. (Screenshot: D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer).

Metro was the faster option when there were no transfers or trips extended to the suburbs. (Screenshot: D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer).
As the authors point out, nights and weekends are likely when transit users in the District would find ride-hailing more appealing. A trip between two residential and entertainment hubs is an example. When the wait for a train is 10 minutes, the research says, the Metro trip from Columbia Heights to Eastern Market takes 47 minutes. The Uber trip clocks in at 38 minutes— nine minutes faster. If the wait for a train had only been three minutes, the authors point out, Metro would have been the faster option.

Cost is another consideration. Saving nine minutes by using Uber will cost a rider, or group of riders, an extra $10 total. But if the customer is cost-conscious, they might opt for UberPOOL, which would still take them to Eastern Market faster — in 43 minutes — for a dollar more. The study assumes an extra five minutes for UberPOOL, consistent with Uber’s predictions.

For 74 of 114 trips, the analysis concludes, Uber costs no greater than $5 more than what a rider would pay for the same Metro trip. But $5 can be a lofty sum for riders on a system where the max fare is $6.

And the current costs aren’t guaranteed.

No matter how many seats are filled in an Uber or Lyft, one thing that’s clear is that ride-hailing isn’t a feasible replacement for mass transit — as the companies themselves admit. While an Uber ride might be faster in some cases, a single Metro train can whisk more than 1,000 people from the District to the Maryland or Virginia suburbs in a matter of minutes. To attempt the same with Uber or Lyft would be a guaranteed recipe for Gridlock.“It is unclear how long Uber prices will remain this low,” the analysis notes. “Several news outlets have reported that Uber subsidizes its rides with money from investors, meaning current fares might not reflect the full cost of a ride.”

In a statement, D.C. Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWitt said the study underscored the importance of finding a long-term funding solution for Metro, to ensure the system is safe and reliable.

“When Metro is reliable it’s the most cost effective option for riders and why it is so important the region come together on a long term funding solution,” his office said in a statement.

Tags: Public TransitDC MTAprivatization
Categories: Labor News

Could this study explain why DC Metro is losing riders to Uber and Lyft? Downsizing Public Transit Leads To Privatization

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 11:05

Could this study explain why DC Metro is losing riders to Uber and Lyft? Downsizing Public Transit Leads To Privatization
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2017/10/11/could-this...

By Faiz Siddiqui October 11 at 12:00 PM

New data from the D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer shows Uber is often a faster way around the District than Metro. (Mike Blake / Reuters)
Metro is the most efficient means of commuting to and from the D.C. suburbs, but when it comes to intra-city travel — trips beginning and ending in the District — Uber is often the faster way around, according to a new analysis from the D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer. And though ride-hailing is almost always more expensive than public transit, lower-cost pooling options make it nearly as affordable to hail a car in the District as to take Metro, while adding only marginally to travel times.

According to the study, which examined travel times during afternoon rush, the duration of a commute on Metro and Uber is often similar. But variables, such as Metro delays or the night and weekend service reductions so familiar to riders, put the transit system at a disadvantage, while heavier-than-usual traffic can set back ride-hailing users.

Consider this: When the wait for a Metro train is 10 minutes, Uber is the quicker option in 99 of 114 scenarios, according to the research. (During off-peak hours, Metro trains arrive about every 12 minutes; after 9:30 p.m., the frequency is reduced to every 15 to 20 minutes, making a 10-minute wait more likely.) And even during rush hour, when service is at its peak levels, trips that would normally require a transfer on Metro generally favor Uber, according to the analysis.

Still, the study shows, when train service is frequent and reliable, Metro is the fastest way around the region. In a scenario where trains arrived every three minutes — assuming a 10-minute walk to the station — Metro matched or beat out Uber in 67 of 114 trips, according to the analysis. Trains currently arrive every eight minutes across the system, with more frequent service on the Red Line from Grosvenor to Silver Spring.

Metro is fastest for getting to the suburbs. But for travel within the District, or trips requiring a transfer, Uber is often faster and nearly as affordable, according to the study. (Screenshot: D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer).
“Metro is especially efficient for longer trips from downtown to the suburbs that do not require transfers,” the study says.

The comparison solely encompassed Uber because the ride-hailing company has made a trove of data available to city planners that makes its travel times easy to weigh against Metro’s. The app launched in January, Uber Movement, contains travel times and congestion data for select cities. Metro’s travel times were pulled from its online trip planner.

[Uber’s new tool is a glimpse of how much it knows about cities. Planners want the full picture.]

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Metro essentially agreed with the study’s conclusions on long-distance travel but disagreed that the system falls short when it comes to trips within the District.

“While we have not analyzed the report or its assumptions, we agree that Metrorail is often faster and more cost effective than other options,” Metro spokesman Richard L. Jordan said. “In fact, Metrorail’s cost per mile is less than Uber or taxi services, regardless of the trip distance, making it an excellent value.”

In a statement, an Uber spokesman said the ride-hailing service doesn’t see Metro as a competitor.

“Uber has long believed that the Metro is, and will continue to be, the backbone of the region’s transportation system,” the spokesman said. “We are proud to provide first- [and] last-mile options that extend the reach of the public transportation infrastructure hundreds of thousands of Metro commuters rely on every day.”

Researchers said they chose the 114 routes in the analysis because they were common — with a transfer-free trips from Gallery Place or Metro Center to nearly every station in the system. Routes also included trips to common job centers — such as Foggy Bottom and Navy Yard — nightlife hubs such as Shaw, or residential and commercial areas like Columbia Heights. The researchers admit they “purposefully included some trips” where they thought Uber would beat Metro to fully demonstrate the scale of differences in travel times.

Of course, there’s often a simple way to avoid a time-consuming transfer on Metrorail: the bus. Jordan said it was “surprising” that the study didn’t “fully consider” the vast Metrobus network, as buses carry more riders than the rail system in the District — at a cost of $2 per trip.
In fact, the study’s authors did acknowledge that many of the points entailing longer commutes on Metrorail were easily connected by Metrobus.

“With Metro’s spoke-and-hub configuration, it’s not surprising that trips requiring a transfer that have origins and destinations relatively close to each other are quicker in an Uber than on Metro,” the analysis said, noting how the X2 bus, for example, links Union Station and Minnesota Avenue, and the H4 bus connects Columbia Heights and Cleveland Park. “Some folks have their own work-arounds, and might bike between these locations. All of this is to say that even if Uber is faster than Metro for trips with a transfer, there are other modes of transit a person can use to make this sort of trip.”

Uber was often the faster option for trips within the District. Here are the 10 routes where Uber is fastest compared to Metro. (Screenshot: D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer).

Metro was the faster option when there were no transfers or trips extended to the suburbs. (Screenshot: D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer).
As the authors point out, nights and weekends are likely when transit users in the District would find ride-hailing more appealing. A trip between two residential and entertainment hubs is an example. When the wait for a train is 10 minutes, the research says, the Metro trip from Columbia Heights to Eastern Market takes 47 minutes. The Uber trip clocks in at 38 minutes— nine minutes faster. If the wait for a train had only been three minutes, the authors point out, Metro would have been the faster option.

Cost is another consideration. Saving nine minutes by using Uber will cost a rider, or group of riders, an extra $10 total. But if the customer is cost-conscious, they might opt for UberPOOL, which would still take them to Eastern Market faster — in 43 minutes — for a dollar more. The study assumes an extra five minutes for UberPOOL, consistent with Uber’s predictions.

For 74 of 114 trips, the analysis concludes, Uber costs no greater than $5 more than what a rider would pay for the same Metro trip. But $5 can be a lofty sum for riders on a system where the max fare is $6.

And the current costs aren’t guaranteed.

No matter how many seats are filled in an Uber or Lyft, one thing that’s clear is that ride-hailing isn’t a feasible replacement for mass transit — as the companies themselves admit. While an Uber ride might be faster in some cases, a single Metro train can whisk more than 1,000 people from the District to the Maryland or Virginia suburbs in a matter of minutes. To attempt the same with Uber or Lyft would be a guaranteed recipe for Gridlock.“It is unclear how long Uber prices will remain this low,” the analysis notes. “Several news outlets have reported that Uber subsidizes its rides with money from investors, meaning current fares might not reflect the full cost of a ride.”

In a statement, D.C. Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWitt said the study underscored the importance of finding a long-term funding solution for Metro, to ensure the system is safe and reliable.

“When Metro is reliable it’s the most cost effective option for riders and why it is so important the region come together on a long term funding solution,” his office said in a statement.

Tags: Public TransitDC MTAprivatization
Categories: Labor News

Uber, Lyft reduce transit use, increase vehicle miles, report says

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 10:55

Uber, Lyft reduce transit use, increase vehicle miles, report says
http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Uber-Lyft-reduce-transit-use...
By Carolyn SaidOctober 11, 2017
<920x1240.jpg>Photo: Richard Vogel, Associated PressNearly a quarter of ride-hailing passengers use the services daily or weekly, a study has found.
As ride-hailing has exploded in popularity, it’s caused a slight decrease in car ownership — but has also reduced use of public transit, biking and walking. The result is a likely increase in both traffic and the number of miles traveled in a vehicle, according to a national study of ride-hailing adoption from the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies being released Wednesday.

“Although we found that ride-hailing can be complementary to transit and reduce vehicle ownership for a small portion of individuals, we found that (overall) these services currently facilitate a shift away from more sustainable modes towards low occupancy vehicles in major cities,” said Regina Clewlow, lead author of the report, in a statement.

The UC Davis study was based on a representative panel of consumers in seven major U.S. metropolitan areas. Among other findings:

•Urban Americans use ride-hailing much more than those in the suburbs. While 29 percent of city dwellers surveyed use Uber and Lyft, only 7 percent of suburban respondents do so in their hometown. Another 7 percent of suburbanites use the services when they travel elsewhere.

•Almost a quarter (24 percent) of ride-hailing passengers use the services daily or weekly.

•Parking is passengers’ top motivation for hopping into an Uber or Lyft rather than driving, with 37 percent citing this. Avoiding drinking and driving was cited by 33 percent.

•Usage is more prevalent among younger people. Among those 18 to 29, some 36 percent use ride-hailing compared with only 4 percent among those age 65 and older.

•The vast majority (91 percent) of ride-hailing customers say it has not changed whether or not they own a vehicle.

•Riders who now drive less often said they instead use ride-hailing for those trips. The report said it wasn’t possible to determine changes in net vehicle miles traveled.

•Urban ride-hailing passengers decreased their use of public transit by 6 percent. Bus and light rail service were both used less often by Uber and Lyft riders, while commuter rail saw a 3 percent bump in usage.

•Many ride-hailed trips (49 to 61 percent) would have not been made or would have occurred via walking, biking or transit.

“Ride-hailing is currently likely to contribute to growth in vehicle miles traveled in the major cities represented in this study,” the report authors wrote.

Given that likelihood, policymakers should consider giving priority to high-occupancy vehicles through methods such as congestion pricing and priority lanes, the report said.

While Uber and Lyft have extensive data on their customers, both have been reluctant to share it. That has forced lawmakers and researchers to seek other ways of discerning the services’ impacts. San Francisco has gone to court in a pending case to demand information from the companies about their use of city streets. The city also commissioned its own study about Uber’s and Lyft’s impacts on congestion, in which an outside researcher used software to query the companies’ apps every five seconds over a six-week period.

Carolyn Said is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: csaid@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @csaid

Tags: UberLyftpublic transportationprivatization
Categories: Labor News

Uber, Lyft reduce transit use, increase vehicle miles, report says-Deregulation & Privatization Brings Gridlock

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 10:55

Uber, Lyft reduce transit use, increase vehicle miles, report says-Deregulation & Privatization Brings Gridlock
Uber, Lyft reduce transit use, increase vehicle miles, report says
http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Uber-Lyft-reduce-transit-use...
By Carolyn SaidOctober 11, 2017
<920x1240.jpg>Photo: Richard Vogel, Associated PressNearly a quarter of ride-hailing passengers use the services daily or weekly, a study has found.
As ride-hailing has exploded in popularity, it’s caused a slight decrease in car ownership — but has also reduced use of public transit, biking and walking. The result is a likely increase in both traffic and the number of miles traveled in a vehicle, according to a national study of ride-hailing adoption from the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies being released Wednesday.

“Although we found that ride-hailing can be complementary to transit and reduce vehicle ownership for a small portion of individuals, we found that (overall) these services currently facilitate a shift away from more sustainable modes towards low occupancy vehicles in major cities,” said Regina Clewlow, lead author of the report, in a statement.

The UC Davis study was based on a representative panel of consumers in seven major U.S. metropolitan areas. Among other findings:

•Urban Americans use ride-hailing much more than those in the suburbs. While 29 percent of city dwellers surveyed use Uber and Lyft, only 7 percent of suburban respondents do so in their hometown. Another 7 percent of suburbanites use the services when they travel elsewhere.

•Almost a quarter (24 percent) of ride-hailing passengers use the services daily or weekly.

•Parking is passengers’ top motivation for hopping into an Uber or Lyft rather than driving, with 37 percent citing this. Avoiding drinking and driving was cited by 33 percent.

•Usage is more prevalent among younger people. Among those 18 to 29, some 36 percent use ride-hailing compared with only 4 percent among those age 65 and older.

•The vast majority (91 percent) of ride-hailing customers say it has not changed whether or not they own a vehicle.

•Riders who now drive less often said they instead use ride-hailing for those trips. The report said it wasn’t possible to determine changes in net vehicle miles traveled.

•Urban ride-hailing passengers decreased their use of public transit by 6 percent. Bus and light rail service were both used less often by Uber and Lyft riders, while commuter rail saw a 3 percent bump in usage.

•Many ride-hailed trips (49 to 61 percent) would have not been made or would have occurred via walking, biking or transit.

“Ride-hailing is currently likely to contribute to growth in vehicle miles traveled in the major cities represented in this study,” the report authors wrote.

Given that likelihood, policymakers should consider giving priority to high-occupancy vehicles through methods such as congestion pricing and priority lanes, the report said.

While Uber and Lyft have extensive data on their customers, both have been reluctant to share it. That has forced lawmakers and researchers to seek other ways of discerning the services’ impacts. San Francisco has gone to court in a pending case to demand information from the companies about their use of city streets. The city also commissioned its own study about Uber’s and Lyft’s impacts on congestion, in which an outside researcher used software to query the companies’ apps every five seconds over a six-week period.

Carolyn Said is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: csaid@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @csaid

Tags: UberLyftpublic transportationprivatizationgridlockderegulation
Categories: Labor News

JFK Airport guard forced to watch colleagues have sex on security cameras: suit

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 10:29

JFK Airport guard forced to watch colleagues have sex on security cameras: suit

BY
VICTORIA BEKIEMPIS
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Tuesday, October 10, 2017, 11:54 PM

JFK Airport guard forced to watch colleagues have sex on security cameras: suit

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/jfk-airport-guard-forced-watch-colle...

A former security guard at Kennedy Airport was forced to watch her coworkers have sex and subjected to constant sexual harassment because she rejected her boss’s advances, a new lawsuit alleges.

LaDonna Powell, 32, worked for the company now known as Allied Universal Security Services at JFK from 2012 to 2016.

Powell says she was “presented with a choice: have sex with male supervisors and get ahead, or refuse and be relentlessly harassed and retaliated against,” her Manhattan Federal Court lawsuit alleges.

Because Powell refused, she endured “harrowing” torment, she claims in the suit, which was filed Tuesday.

That torment included being “repeatedly forced to stand by as her supervisors watched her colleagues have sex in security booths via closed circuit television cameras,” according to court papers.

She was also “present while her supervisors watched videos of female security guards performing oral sex on male supervisors” and would ask about her sexual prowess, court papers state.

Once, in late 2014, a boss called Powell into his office and allegedly said "How much further do you want to go (at Allied)? ... There are things you can do to get where you want to go."

LaDonna Powell, 32, accuses Allied Universal Security Services at JFK of quid-pro-quo sex for advancement.
LaDonna Powell, 32, accuses Allied Universal Security Services at JFK of quid-pro-quo sex for advancement.(WNBC)
His “clear implication to Ms. Powell was that she could engage in sex acts to advance her career,” the suit states.

A supervisor from the Port Authority — which contracts with Allied to provide security at JFK — was there during the meeting, the Powell alleges.

Another time, the same Allied supervisor said “Since everyone already thinks we had sex, let's bend you over the table,” the documents claim.

The same man also "brushed up against Ms. Powell's body when walking past her and made unnecessary contact with her,” according to the lawsuit.

When Powell tried to report the harassment — and an allegation that a female colleague was raped by two coworkers after a work event — her complaints fell on deaf ears, she contends.

Powell, who is black, also alleges that white supervisors routinely used the N-word in the office in front of her.

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi
A former security guard at Kennedy Airport claims in a new lawsuit she was subjected to constant sexual harassment. (ANTHONY DELMUNDO/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)
She says she was often denied meal and bathroom breaks when she worked as a security officer "to the point where, on multiple occasions, she had to urinate in a cup in the middle of her shift.”

Powell claims she made multiple complaints to Allied supervisors and the Port Authority about the alleged racial and sex discrimination at JFK.

She believes she was fired in May 2016 as retaliation and is seeking unspecified damages.

"We have just received the lawsuit and are reviewing it," Allied said in a statement, saying that "per policy we do not comment publicly on pending litigation."

Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman declined to comment on the suit, but said the matter was referred to the agency's inspector general.

WITH DAN RIVOLI

Tags: Sexual HarassmentKennedy Airport
Categories: Labor News

MTA, NY TWU 100 mull ditching subway booth workers for ‘ambassadors’ to boost communication with riders “They just want to combine both, where they work the platform and they also work on the other side of the turnstile,” said Kia Phua, the union’s vic

Mon, 10/09/2017 - 12:48

MTA, transit union mull ditching subway booth workers for ‘ambassadors’ to boost communication with riders
“They just want to combine both, where they work the platform and they also work on the other side of the turnstile,” said Kia Phua, the union’s vice president of rapid transit operations. “It is a job cut.”

BY
DAN RIVOLI
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Monday, October 9, 2017, 4:00 AM
The subway station clerk soon may go the way of the token.

In what could be the beginning of the end for booth-dwelling workers, the MTA is in negotiations with the transit union to create a new title, “customer service ambassador,” with new duties, the Daily News has learned.

Ambassadors will roam stations and aid riders, in effect offering concierge services befitting the subway.

“These ambassadors will improve communication with riders by providing real-time information about the system and their commutes,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Shams Tarek said.

It’s all part of improving customer service, Tarek said, which is key to MTA chairman Joe Lhota’s Subway Action Plan.

As they did back when riders used tokens, station agents still handle MetroCard transactions and take questions and complaints from tourists and New Yorkers alike. But in anticipation of the day when the MetroCard is retired for smart card and phone payments, and fewer people line up at booths, the MTA and the union representing transit workers have tried to negotiate new responsibilities for station agents.

Riders got their first glimpse of the new subway ambassadors at the reopening of the 53rd St. stop on the R line in Brooklyn, following the station’s six-month makeover. The workers were handing out flyers detailing the station renovations and new artwork.

MTA workers in yellow and black shirts labeled with “Customer Service Ambassador” (pictured) greeted riders after the reopening of the R train in Brooklyn in Sept. 2017. (KEVIN C. DOWNS/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)
Commuter Will O’Connor, 42, thinks having roving workers makes more sense than the booths. He said he never goes to a booth anymore and thinks their locations are inconvenient when he needs help.

Gov. Cuomo orders panel to bust NYC gridlock, bring money to MTA

“I’ve tried to bark information to one of those booths through the turnstile,” the tech worker from Carroll Gardens said of one fruitless effort to figure out when his next train would show up.

Jean-Claude Quintyne, 25, from Crown Heights, thought it would help make his commute smoother, particularly when he’s at the busy Atlantic Ave.-Barclays Center station. The ambassador concept, Quintyne said, is a sign that the MTA is “moving to improve things, instead of trying to empty our pockets.”

Not everyone is thrilled with the plan.

Some representatives of Transport Workers Union Local 100 say the MTA is trying to cut its work force by merging the role of station agent and platform controller – who are train conductors assigned to thin crowds at stations – into a single title.

Tags: TWU 100layoffs
Categories: Labor News

MTA, NY TWU 100 mull ditching subway booth workers for ‘ambassadors’ to boost communication with riders “They just want to combine both, where they work the platform and they also work on the other side of the turnstile,” said Kia Phua, the union’s vic

Mon, 10/09/2017 - 12:48

MTA, transit union mull ditching subway booth workers for ‘ambassadors’ to boost communication with riders
“They just want to combine both, where they work the platform and they also work on the other side of the turnstile,” said Kia Phua, the union’s vice president of rapid transit operations. “It is a job cut.”

BY
DAN RIVOLI
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Monday, October 9, 2017, 4:00 AM
The subway station clerk soon may go the way of the token.

In what could be the beginning of the end for booth-dwelling workers, the MTA is in negotiations with the transit union to create a new title, “customer service ambassador,” with new duties, the Daily News has learned.

Ambassadors will roam stations and aid riders, in effect offering concierge services befitting the subway.

“These ambassadors will improve communication with riders by providing real-time information about the system and their commutes,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Shams Tarek said.

It’s all part of improving customer service, Tarek said, which is key to MTA chairman Joe Lhota’s Subway Action Plan.

As they did back when riders used tokens, station agents still handle MetroCard transactions and take questions and complaints from tourists and New Yorkers alike. But in anticipation of the day when the MetroCard is retired for smart card and phone payments, and fewer people line up at booths, the MTA and the union representing transit workers have tried to negotiate new responsibilities for station agents.

Riders got their first glimpse of the new subway ambassadors at the reopening of the 53rd St. stop on the R line in Brooklyn, following the station’s six-month makeover. The workers were handing out flyers detailing the station renovations and new artwork.

MTA workers in yellow and black shirts labeled with “Customer Service Ambassador” (pictured) greeted riders after the reopening of the R train in Brooklyn in Sept. 2017. (KEVIN C. DOWNS/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)
Commuter Will O’Connor, 42, thinks having roving workers makes more sense than the booths. He said he never goes to a booth anymore and thinks their locations are inconvenient when he needs help.

Gov. Cuomo orders panel to bust NYC gridlock, bring money to MTA

“I’ve tried to bark information to one of those booths through the turnstile,” the tech worker from Carroll Gardens said of one fruitless effort to figure out when his next train would show up.

Jean-Claude Quintyne, 25, from Crown Heights, thought it would help make his commute smoother, particularly when he’s at the busy Atlantic Ave.-Barclays Center station. The ambassador concept, Quintyne said, is a sign that the MTA is “moving to improve things, instead of trying to empty our pockets.”

Not everyone is thrilled with the plan.

Some representatives of Transport Workers Union Local 100 say the MTA is trying to cut its work force by merging the role of station agent and platform controller – who are train conductors assigned to thin crowds at stations – into a single title.

Tags: TWU 100layoffs
Categories: Labor News

State agency slaps BART with a nearly $220,000 fine for 2013 worker deaths; blames management, safety culture but no one is prosecuted and goes to jail

Fri, 10/06/2017 - 20:57

State agency slaps BART with a nearly $220,000 fine for 2013 worker deaths; blames management, safety culture but no one is prosecuted and goes to jail
State agency slaps BART with a nearly $220,000 fine for 2013 worker deaths; blames top management, safety culture

http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/10/06/state-finds-bart-management-safet...

BART employees, along with the National Transportation Safety Board investigate the scene on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013, where a four-car northbound Bay Point train was involved in the deaths of two workers in Walnut Creek, Calif. (File photo by Susan Tripp Pollard/Bay Area News Group Archives)
By ERIN BALDASSARI | ebaldassari@bayareanewsgroup.com | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: October 6, 2017 at 1:53 pm | UPDATED: October 6, 2017 at 4:53 pm
A state regulatory agency is slapping a nearly $220,000 fine on BART after concluding that its top management and safety culture were to blame for the deaths of two workers during the 2013 labor strikes.

The decision comes nearly four years to the day after a BART train, operated by a trainee with no direct supervision, struck and killed BART employee Christopher Sheppard, 58, of Hayward, and a contractor, 66-year-old Fair Oaks resident Laurence Daniels. The California Public Utilities Commission launched its investigation last year into the workers’ deaths, following investigations from other state and federal agencies.

It’s the second fine levied against BART for the incident, though BART is still appealing the first penalty it received in 2014 from the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal-OSHA). That agency in July downgraded its initial penalty of $210,000 to just $95,000, which BART is asking Cal-OSHA to reconsider. And, in October, BART agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a wrongful death suit brought by Daniels’ family.

The decision, from the presiding officer in the investigation, Administrative Law Judge Kimberly Kim, describes the violations as a “breach of commitment” from top managers to enforce safety standards in their departments. Kim’s decision will become final in 30 days, unless the full commission decides it warrants review, or if BART files an appeal, according to a commission spokesman.

“These are serious and egregious violations, particularly in view of the fact that they were violations committed by BART’s top level veteran managers, reflecting BART’s organizational and management culture and attitudes,” the decision reads.

In a statement Friday, BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said the agency was still determining whether it would appeal the decision. In the past, it has denied its safety culture was to blame, citing instead the failure of the workers to follow its policies for working near the tracks, as well as the unusual circumstances surrounding the 2013 strikes, when managers were performing essential tasks and the agency was preparing to offer limited service from the East Bay to San Francisco.

In a formal response to the commission, BART contended that the supervisor in charge of overseeing the trainee was an experienced and qualified train operator. But the commission’s investigation revealed the supervisor was not in the cabin with the trainee at the time and had been using his cellphone throughout the day, a possible violation of both state regulations and BART’s own policies.

The supervisor sent or received 47 text messages and logged 11 calls between 6 a.m. and the time of collision, 1:44 p.m., on Oct. 19, 2013, including one text message sent just one minute before the men were struck by the train, the commission’s investigation found.

It took just 4.7 seconds from the moment the operator in training saw Daniels and Sheppard, who were out inspecting a dip in the tracks near the Walnut Creek station, and the time of impact. The inexperienced operator slammed on the emergency brake and tried to sound the train’s horns to alert the workers but hit the door control button instead, according to the commission’s investigation.

Two state investigations and an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board also cited the inherent danger in a workplace procedure BART was employing at the time, called “simple approval.” That policy allowed workers to operate within a certain distance of the tracks and made workers responsible for their own safety.

Under the procedure, the workers should have designated a member of their team to watch for passing trains, but that didn’t happen the day Daniels and Sheppard were killed.

BART acted quickly to eliminate the procedure, and the agency now requires all workers to request a “work area clearance,” a more stringent policy that prevents trains from entering areas where workers are present. The agency also requires three-way communication among workers, the train control center and train operators and reduced speeds near work zones. And it has invested $4 million in physical safety barriers, among other changes that resulted from the workers’ deaths.

“Safety is our highest priority,” Trost said Friday. “There is nothing more important than providing a safe working environment for our employees.”

But, as part of the decision, the commission is requiring even more stringent action during a three-year probationary period, mandating BART immediately begin tracking and submitting annual reports of any violations of safety rules, practices, policies or procedures, along with the corrective action taken as a result of those violations. The agency must re-evaluate its current safety training programs and design a plan to improve their effectiveness.

The agency must also develop and implement “annual safety rules, practices, policies, procedures and culture refresher courses for all of its essential managers” and brief the commission annually on its efforts. The commission will monitor BART’s compliance during the probationary period, after which the commission could issue more penalties if BART violates the order or extend the probationary period, according to the decision.

Hearing officer recommends $220,000 fine for BART in 2013 deaths
http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/PUC-judge-recommends-220-000-...

By Bob EgelkoOctober 6, 2017 Updated: October 6, 2017 7:25pm
BART should be fined $220,000 and overhaul lax safety rules and practices that contributed to the deaths of two workers on a track near Walnut Creek in 2013, a state hearing officer recommended Friday.

“The evidence in this case shows that there may be a serious safety culture problem at BART,” said Kimberly Kim, an administrative law judge for the state Public Utilities Commission.

Christopher Sheppard, 58, of Hayward, a BART track engineer, and Lawrence Daniels, 66, of Fair Oaks (Sacramento County), a contract employee, were fatally struck by a train in October 2013 while they were checking on a reported dip in the tracks between the Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill stations.

The accident happened on the second day of a strike by union employees that lasted four days. The train, traveling at 60 to 70 mph, was being operated by a manager who was being trained to take over driver duties in the event of an extended walkout.

At the time, BART trains did not slow down during routine track maintenance, and workers were supposed to look out for their own safety. A coroner’s report found that neither of the workers had been acting as a lookout for oncoming trains.

State regulators with Cal/OSHA found the practice unsafe in 2014 and fined BART $210,000. The district has also settled a suit by Daniels’ family for $300,000. BART has since changed its policy.

Kim found numerous safety violations in Friday’s decision. She said a veteran BART manager, Paul Liston, who was supposed to be training and supervising the operator, instead had been on his cell phone for hours, including the moments before the accident. Five “top-level managers” on the train did nothing to stop him, Kim said.

She said neither Liston nor the train operator, Richard Burr, sounded the horn as they approached the work site, and other managers failed to warn them of the presence of track workers. Kim also said BART was supposed to investigate the accident and file its report with the Public Utilities Commission within 60 days, but did not submit its report until January 2017.

Kim said the violations warranted $659,000 in fines, but recommended that BART pay only one-third of that amount while upgrading its practices. She said the transit district, within six months, should propose improvements to its safety training programs and require managers to undergo at least 40 hours of training, with the PUC monitoring its compliance.

BART or a PUC member can seek review of Kim’s decision by the full commission. BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said the district is reviewing the decision.

After the 2013 accident, Trost said in a statement, “BART moved swiftly to implement profound changes to its trackside procedures.”

Bob Egelko is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: begelko@sfchronicle.comTwitter:@egelko

Tags: BART Murderosharailways
Categories: Labor News

Pages