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IBT Pres Hoffa Wants Trump To Make Corporate Trade Agreement NAFTA Better?

Fri, 10/06/2017 - 05:40

IBT Pres Hoffa Wants Trump To Make Corporate Trade Agreement NAFTA Better?
http://www.detroitnews.com/story/opinion/2017/10/04/labor-voices-nafta-t...
NAFTA should deal with trucking, labor
James HoffaPublished 12:03 a.m. ET Oct. 4, 2017
As governments continue to grapple with much-needed changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), U.S. and Canadian Teamsters have joined together to stand up for workers and push for policy changes that will improve their lives and livelihoods.

While the third round of renegotiations of the trade pact ended last week, the status of many important issues remains in flux, including workers’ rights and cross-border trucking. The Teamsters have also joined civil society groups in calling for the elimination of a controversial dispute settlement mechanism in NAFTA’s investment chapter that allows corporations to sue governments.

At the top of the agenda is fixing the mistake of including long-haul trucking in the original NAFTA. The Teamsters have briefed U.S. and Canadian officials on suggested language that would provide a level playing field, improve truck safety and boost working conditions and wages for Mexican drivers.

This issue must be addressed in these negotiations. Not only do truckers stand to benefit, but American lives are at stake. Old and unsafe trucks put our highways at risk and pollute our air, putting the public’s health in jeopardy. That’s not a price people should pay for bad policy.

The first draft of the proposed U.S. labor chapter, which was tabled last week, is inadequate. As it stands, working and middle class families are better served by the current Canadian proposal, which will improve wages and working conditions in all three NAFTA countries and calls for an end to anti-worker right-to-work laws here.

It is imperative that NAFTA 2.0 gets it right when it comes to workers’ rights. The pact in its current form doesn’t work. Instead, it subordinates their interests to the bottom-line profit motives of multinational corporations, suppresses wages and labor standards, and contributes to rising inequality.

Michigan has seen firsthand the terrible damage trade deals like NAFTA have brought to this country. More than 161,000 Michigan workers have lost their jobs to offshoring, while 300,000 more manufacturing jobs have been lost since the deal took effect. Members of the UAW’s Local 600 in Dearborn were particularly hard-hit. It is estimated NAFTA has cost the U.S. more than a million jobs. That is unacceptable. It is time to replace NAFTA with a new model of trade that puts the interests of North American workers above those of multinational corporations and foreign investors.

Negotiators head back to Washington to continue talks next week, and there is a lot at stake. It is essential that workers’ interests take precedence over the desires of big business, which is merely looking to further boost their bottom lines over making policy changes that put people first. That’s what real change would look like.

The Teamsters are North America’s supply chain union. With members in long-haul trucking and freight rail, air, at ports and in warehouses, as well as members in manufacturing and food processing, this union has a big stake in trade policy reform. We will be monitoring the modernization of a flawed and failed NAFTA, and fighting to make sure that the new NAFTA works for working families.

James Hoffa is president of the Teamsters.

Tags: Hoffaderegulationunion bustingNAFTA
Categories: Labor News

IBT Pres Hoffa Wants Trump To Make Corporate Trade Agreement NAFTA Better?

Fri, 10/06/2017 - 05:40

IBT Pres Hoffa Wants Trump To Make Corporate Trade Agreement NAFTA Better?
http://www.detroitnews.com/story/opinion/2017/10/04/labor-voices-nafta-t...
NAFTA should deal with trucking, labor
James HoffaPublished 12:03 a.m. ET Oct. 4, 2017
As governments continue to grapple with much-needed changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), U.S. and Canadian Teamsters have joined together to stand up for workers and push for policy changes that will improve their lives and livelihoods.

While the third round of renegotiations of the trade pact ended last week, the status of many important issues remains in flux, including workers’ rights and cross-border trucking. The Teamsters have also joined civil society groups in calling for the elimination of a controversial dispute settlement mechanism in NAFTA’s investment chapter that allows corporations to sue governments.

At the top of the agenda is fixing the mistake of including long-haul trucking in the original NAFTA. The Teamsters have briefed U.S. and Canadian officials on suggested language that would provide a level playing field, improve truck safety and boost working conditions and wages for Mexican drivers.

This issue must be addressed in these negotiations. Not only do truckers stand to benefit, but American lives are at stake. Old and unsafe trucks put our highways at risk and pollute our air, putting the public’s health in jeopardy. That’s not a price people should pay for bad policy.

The first draft of the proposed U.S. labor chapter, which was tabled last week, is inadequate. As it stands, working and middle class families are better served by the current Canadian proposal, which will improve wages and working conditions in all three NAFTA countries and calls for an end to anti-worker right-to-work laws here.

It is imperative that NAFTA 2.0 gets it right when it comes to workers’ rights. The pact in its current form doesn’t work. Instead, it subordinates their interests to the bottom-line profit motives of multinational corporations, suppresses wages and labor standards, and contributes to rising inequality.

Michigan has seen firsthand the terrible damage trade deals like NAFTA have brought to this country. More than 161,000 Michigan workers have lost their jobs to offshoring, while 300,000 more manufacturing jobs have been lost since the deal took effect. Members of the UAW’s Local 600 in Dearborn were particularly hard-hit. It is estimated NAFTA has cost the U.S. more than a million jobs. That is unacceptable. It is time to replace NAFTA with a new model of trade that puts the interests of North American workers above those of multinational corporations and foreign investors.

Negotiators head back to Washington to continue talks next week, and there is a lot at stake. It is essential that workers’ interests take precedence over the desires of big business, which is merely looking to further boost their bottom lines over making policy changes that put people first. That’s what real change would look like.

The Teamsters are North America’s supply chain union. With members in long-haul trucking and freight rail, air, at ports and in warehouses, as well as members in manufacturing and food processing, this union has a big stake in trade policy reform. We will be monitoring the modernization of a flawed and failed NAFTA, and fighting to make sure that the new NAFTA works for working families.

James Hoffa is president of the Teamsters.

Tags: Hoffaderegulationunion bustingNAFTA
Categories: Labor News

Operations at Barcelona, Tarragona Ports Hit by Catalonia Strike

Wed, 10/04/2017 - 14:07

Operations at Barcelona, Tarragona Ports Hit by Catalonia Strike

https://worldmaritimenews.com/archives/231502/operations-at-barcelona-ta...

The strikes being staged in Catalonia following the Spanish government’s crackdown on voters of Sunday’s independence referendum in Catalonia is affecting operations at Spanish ports of Barcelona and Tarragona.

Workers in Catalonia took to the streets protesting the violence of the country’s police against the voters which has reportedly left 800 people injured.

Thousands of people joined the demonstrations in Barcelona, including several hundreds of port workers who protested outside the regional headquarters of Spain’s ruling Popular Party, the Associated Press informed.

Maritime unions including the State Coordinator of Sea Workers (CETM), Federation of Port Workers and the Port Stevedores, called for workers to join the strike as a moral obligation to urge politicians to respect democratic values and urge them to turn to dialogue and negotiations, not violence.

According to Spanish Ministry of Public Works, a minimum level of services will be in place with respect to land transport, air transport and some of the country’s ports during the strikes, scheduled to take place from 2nd to 13th of October.

In practice, this means that surveillance, control and security measures necessary to guarantee 50% of the access and exit to ships would be provided at the affected ports.

A minimum of necessary personnel would be provided to guarantee movement of dangerous goods, and perishables, in addition to pilotage, towing, mooring, emergency and stowage activities.

Marine signaling and navigation aid systems would be working at full capacity, the ministry said.

World Maritime News Staff; Illustration; Image Courtesy: Coordinadora

Tags: Federation of Port Workers and the Port StevedoresGeneral Strike
Categories: Labor News

Operations at Barcelona, Tarragona Ports Hit by Catalonia Strike

Wed, 10/04/2017 - 14:07

Operations at Barcelona, Tarragona Ports Hit by Catalonia Strike

https://worldmaritimenews.com/archives/231502/operations-at-barcelona-ta...

The strikes being staged in Catalonia following the Spanish government’s crackdown on voters of Sunday’s independence referendum in Catalonia is affecting operations at Spanish ports of Barcelona and Tarragona.

Workers in Catalonia took to the streets protesting the violence of the country’s police against the voters which has reportedly left 800 people injured.

Thousands of people joined the demonstrations in Barcelona, including several hundreds of port workers who protested outside the regional headquarters of Spain’s ruling Popular Party, the Associated Press informed.

Maritime unions including the State Coordinator of Sea Workers (CETM), Federation of Port Workers and the Port Stevedores, called for workers to join the strike as a moral obligation to urge politicians to respect democratic values and urge them to turn to dialogue and negotiations, not violence.

According to Spanish Ministry of Public Works, a minimum level of services will be in place with respect to land transport, air transport and some of the country’s ports during the strikes, scheduled to take place from 2nd to 13th of October.

In practice, this means that surveillance, control and security measures necessary to guarantee 50% of the access and exit to ships would be provided at the affected ports.

A minimum of necessary personnel would be provided to guarantee movement of dangerous goods, and perishables, in addition to pilotage, towing, mooring, emergency and stowage activities.

Marine signaling and navigation aid systems would be working at full capacity, the ministry said.

World Maritime News Staff; Illustration; Image Courtesy: Coordinadora

Tags: Federation of Port Workers and the Port StevedoresGeneral Strike
Categories: Labor News

Teamsters Denounce False Reports of Work Stoppage by Union Drivers in Puerto Rico

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 09:22

Teamsters Denounce False Reports of Work Stoppage by Union Drivers in Puerto Rico
https://teamster.org/news/2017/10/teamsters-denounce-false-reports-work-...

OCTOBER 2, 2017 PRESS RELEASES

Stories Fabricated and Spread by Biased Online Sources to Further Anti-Union Agenda
PRESS CONTACT
Galen Munroe
Email: gmunroe@teamster.org
Phone: (202) 624-6911
(WASHINGTON) – The Teamsters Union denounces reports from online, anti-union sources that stated Teamster truck drivers in Puerto Rico have refused to move supplies from the port as part of an effort to leverage wage increases from the government. These reports are false and have no basis in fact.
The truth is that members from Teamsters Local Union 901 in San Juan have been working or volunteering since the day after the hurricane passed, helping with disaster relief and recovery.
“Let me be clear – Teamsters in Puerto Rico have been working on the relief efforts since day one,” said Alexis Rodriguez, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local Union 901. “Anyone that has reported anything different is lying. Our only agenda is to help bring Puerto Rico back better and stronger.”
“These viral stories spreading across the internet are nothing but lies perpetrated by anti-union entities to further their destructive agenda,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “The fact that they are attempting to capitalize on the suffering of millions of citizens in Puerto Rico that are dire need of our help by pushing these false stories, just exposes their true nature.”
The union is also coordinating with the AFL-CIO to send Teamster volunteers to Puerto Rico to help augment the relief efforts. Hundreds of Teamsters have volunteered to aid in the recovery in the key areas like the distribution of aid and sanitation.
“The outpouring of volunteers from our membership across the country is truly inspiring,” said George Miranda, President of Teamsters Joint Council 16 in New York, N.Y. “We have had hundreds of members contact us to volunteer their time to go down to Puerto Rico to help with the relief efforts.”
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Tags: teamstersPuerto RicoFake News
Categories: Labor News

Teamsters Denounce False Reports of Work Stoppage by Union Drivers in Puerto Rico

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 09:22

Teamsters Denounce False Reports of Work Stoppage by Union Drivers in Puerto Rico
https://teamster.org/news/2017/10/teamsters-denounce-false-reports-work-...

OCTOBER 2, 2017 PRESS RELEASES

Stories Fabricated and Spread by Biased Online Sources to Further Anti-Union Agenda
PRESS CONTACT
Galen Munroe
Email: gmunroe@teamster.org
Phone: (202) 624-6911
(WASHINGTON) – The Teamsters Union denounces reports from online, anti-union sources that stated Teamster truck drivers in Puerto Rico have refused to move supplies from the port as part of an effort to leverage wage increases from the government. These reports are false and have no basis in fact.
The truth is that members from Teamsters Local Union 901 in San Juan have been working or volunteering since the day after the hurricane passed, helping with disaster relief and recovery.
“Let me be clear – Teamsters in Puerto Rico have been working on the relief efforts since day one,” said Alexis Rodriguez, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local Union 901. “Anyone that has reported anything different is lying. Our only agenda is to help bring Puerto Rico back better and stronger.”
“These viral stories spreading across the internet are nothing but lies perpetrated by anti-union entities to further their destructive agenda,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “The fact that they are attempting to capitalize on the suffering of millions of citizens in Puerto Rico that are dire need of our help by pushing these false stories, just exposes their true nature.”
The union is also coordinating with the AFL-CIO to send Teamster volunteers to Puerto Rico to help augment the relief efforts. Hundreds of Teamsters have volunteered to aid in the recovery in the key areas like the distribution of aid and sanitation.
“The outpouring of volunteers from our membership across the country is truly inspiring,” said George Miranda, President of Teamsters Joint Council 16 in New York, N.Y. “We have had hundreds of members contact us to volunteer their time to go down to Puerto Rico to help with the relief efforts.”
--
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To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to laborjourno+unsubscribe@googlegroups.com.
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Tags: teamstersPuerto RicoFake News
Categories: Labor News

Puerto Rico, Trump and the Jones Act

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 15:49

By Joel Schor - Facts for Working People, September 27, 2017
The recent extreme weather events effecting the Carribbean have made clear the humanitarian situation in Puerto Rico is dire and in stark contrast to Trump’s drab belittling comments about the National Football League opposing him on the conduct of the players during the national anthem.
As a merchant seaman for over 15 years I am very familiar with the law which protects both the rights of seaman while signed on American flagged Vessels and at the same time grants further monopoly powers to shipping companies that register and flag their vessels in the United States.
The Jones Act enacted shortly after WWI to resurrect what was thought of as a dying Merchant Fleet in the United States at the time, went along with a massive subsidy program whereby the overproduction of Navy bottoms were sold at fire sale prices to private shipping companies who had previously established themselves mostly in the highly monopolized and unregulated coastal trade.
As the era of anti-trust legislation was coming about, the big shipping lines needed a way to secure the lucrative coastal trade as foreign operators came in. The Jones Act basically provides that 1) A seaman is entitled to a certain portion of wages earned during a voyage (foreign or domestic ) whenever a vessel arrives at a U.S. port as well as the right to leave the ship, and also sue a shipping company for any injuries the seaman has incurred.
This first part of the Jones Act law pertaining to seaman's rights came about after a series of legislative efforts were made over two decades by the head of the West Coast section of the Seamans’ Union, a man by the name of Andrew Furuseth, who's cause was to take the seaman "out of slavery" or the conditions which were more akin to indentured servitude at one time.

Previous acts outlawed flogging at sea, capturing seaman to be forced to work on ships ect. 2) The post WWI Jones Act also made law that the American Shipping Companies would be entitled to a monopoly on all Inter Coastal trade in the United States. In other words, the law mandated that any commerce between one United States port and another US port could only be carried out by a vessel registered and flagged in the United States. The flag registration of a ship entails that it operates under the laws and regulations of that flag country as far as the employment of its crew, the inspections of its seaworthiness according to international standards etc.
As far as the meaning of this for Puerto Rico today, there is a dire need for assistance from any country that can provide it, but only US flagged and registered vessels can conduct commerce directly with Puerto Rico because of its protectorate status under the Jones Act.
Any aid that would come from Mexico or Latin America would have to be shipped to the continental United States, and then transferred to an American flagged vessel to be shipped to Puerto Rico. Although Hawaii is a state and not a protectorate, the provisions of the Jones Act also mandate that foreign originating cargo must land in the continental United States before being shipped to either of these areas. The Jones Act is also a way of keeping these island regions economically dependent on the United States and hinders the development of their own industries except that which assists the American Military for the most part. Hawaii is home to a large military base at Pearl Harbor and Puerto Rico is actually where a large portion of National Guardsmen are recruited to protect Merchant Ships in War Zones.
In 2003 I was on a Merchant Ship taking military equipment to Gulf State ports in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for pre-positioning during that conflict. That ship along with many others I heard of, had crews of National Guardsmen from Puerto Rico patrolling the decks to protect the military equipment. Many of them told me stories of having been on foreign ships as well that the US military had contracted out to transport ammunition containers. The guardsmen were sometimes not given water to drink on their deck rounds in the hot Mediterranean sun and through the Suez Canal. While the Puerto Rican's serve the U.S. military as such, they do not have the right to vote for the president of the United States. 
Another note as to the usefulness and political convenience of the Jones Act. In 2004-2005 during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, the Maritime Administration of the United States tentatively activated several Ready Reserve Fleet RRF pre-positioned ships to send aid into the disaster zone which were to be Jones Act ships - ie crewed by US civilian mariners.The tentative activation was cancelled by Vice President Dick Cheney who subsequently waived the Jones Act allowing foreign flagged ships to carry the aid into the disaster zone and also house fire fighters and rescue workers. While this may seem expedient, the practice of contracting out to foreign companies in this case most certainly cost much more than pre-positioned RRF government ships which are already manned and in a state of readiness at all times, the cost already accounted for by the Ready Reserve program.
The foreign operator who came into New Orleans - Carnival Cruises - was not only a crony deal for Cheney who had an interest on its board of directors, but also a slap in the face to any kind of public response to disaster relief. By waiving the Jones Act in Maritime and also the Davis Bacon Act prevailing wage law in the disaster area, the capitalists show that they can and will handle things as they see fit and not as the majority of us in society would decide it if we had any choice in the matter.
The Jones Act is a complex law which is played up according to its usefulness politically. Trump claims he was told not to waive the Jones Act in Puerto Rico because " some people in that industry said it was important". Like many of his statements it is vague and cryptic, and most likely without knowledge of what it even is.  His decision also places the profits for US shipping companies above the interests of the people of Puerto Rico.
Joel Schor is a member of ILWU Local 10 and the Sailors Union of the Pacific.

Tags: Jones Actmarine transport workersSUPILWU 10
Categories: Labor News

Lac Mégantic: Blame the Railroad Worker on Steroids

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 11:00

Lac Mégantic: Blame the Railroad Worker on Steroids

http://jordanbarab.com/confinedspace/2017/09/28/lac-megantic-blame-worke...
on Lac Mégantic: Blame the Worker on Steroids
lac megantic workerAn unmanned, half-mile long train “bomb train” carrying tank-cars full of highly explosive crude oil barrels toward a city where it is doomed to derail on a curve, killing everyone in its wake. Luckily, Denzel Washington and Chris Pine show up to save the city at the last second. Everyone lives happily every after.

That was the plot of the 2010 film “Unstoppable.” It’s a fun film. I recommend it.

In real life, however, in the small town of Lac-Mégantic in Quebec, Canada on July 5, 2016, Denzel and Chris never showed up.

At around 1:00 am on July 6, 2013, an unmanned train carrying 72 tank-cars of highly combustible crude oil barreled down a hill at 65 mph, three times the normal speed, and careened off the track, disgorging six million liters of highly combustible petroleum crude. Within moments the oil exploded. The resulting inferno obliterated most of the downtown and incinerated 47 persons.

As might be expected, there were many stories to be told here, and hopefully someone is writing a book: the safety of transporting highly hazardous crude oil in fragile tank cars over thousands of miles of poorly maintained track; the impact of an out-of control fossil fuel economy on the environment, on workers in the industry and on citizens in its wake; the damage caused by a rapacious rail company focused more on cost cutting than safety; and the weakness of government oversight (even in Canada.)

But the story we’ll be telling here is one that we’ve heard many times before — the tendency of those who have responsibility for a catastrophe to shift blame onto individual workers instead of identifying the root causes and systemic problems that, if addressed, could prevent future catastrophes. In this case we’re focusing on the arrest of the engineer and sole crew member, Tom Harding, as well as traffic controller Richard Labrie and manager of train operations Jean Demaitre. Harding, Labrie and Demaitre were were handcuffed and frog-marched to prison. All three have pleaded not-guilty to 47 counts of criminal negligence causing death. Jury selection is currently under way.

I’ve been writing this on and off for several months, since I attended a music benefit for the rail workers. As I began looking into their story, in injustice and plain stupidity of their prosecution became alarmingly evident. I could probably write a book on this one incident (and hopefully someone is already doing that), but out of consideration for my readers, I’m going to make this as short as possible. As those of you who read Confined Space have probably guessed, this is going to be an article on the stupidity of blaming workers for this tragedy when as we will see, there was a train-car load of other systemic causes that, if not addressed, will result in many more of these catastrophes.

Also note that I will frequently refer to Andrew Hopkins’ book Lessons From Longford: The Esso Gas Plant Explosion which lays out many of the principles of conducting a root cause investigation of the systemic causes of an industrial disaster.

What Happened

First, let’s review the events. On the evening of July 5, 2016, Tom Harding, the engineer and lone crew member of the 72-car train, operated by the now-bankrupt Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway (MMA) parked the train on a hill a few miles above the town Lac Mégantic, in Quebec, Canada, after having mechanical problems with the lead engine. Per instructions from headquarters, Harding set the air brakes on the lead locomotive, which he left running to keep air pressure supplied to the air brakes. He also applied a number of hand brakes. Per instruction, he then took a taxi to a nearby hotel, planning to deal with the locomotive’s mechanical problems in the morning.

Shortly before midnight, the lead locomotive, spewing oil from multiple leaks, caught fire. The fire department arrived to put out the fire and also shut down the lead locomotive to keep more oil from into the fire. After the fire department left, the airbrake, which was depended on the operating of the locomotive that had been shut down, began to lose pressure. The train began descending down the hill, picking up speed along the 7.2 miles to Lac Mégantic. When it hit the curve in Lac Mégantic, the train derailed, rupturing many of the cars and bursting into an inferno that killed 47 people in the town.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) conducted a through report in 2014, issuing 18 “Findings as to causes and contributing factors” and 16 additional “Findings as to risk.” The second “Finding as to causes and contributing Factors” concluded that “The 7 hand brakes that were applied to secure the train were insufficient to hold the train without the additional braking force provided by the locomotive’s independent brakes.”

Lac Megantic workerOn that basis, Tom Harding, along with two colleagues, traffic controller Richard Labrie and manager of train operations Jean Demaitre were arrested and accused of being responsible for he disaster. Conviction on a charge of criminal negligence causing death carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. Harding’s crime was not setting enough hand brakes to keep the train from rolling down the hill and his arrest was not pretty. He was “surrounded at his home by a SWAT team and led away in handcuffs to face charges of criminal negligence causing death, despite the fact that his lawyer had notified the police that Mr. Harding would voluntarily come to the court when asked to appear to face charges. He was escorted to a makeshift courtroom in full view of the news media.”

The Causes of the Lac Mégantic Disaster

As avid readers of Confined Space understand quite well by now, resolving safety issues is not as simple as finding a couple of workers to blame and firing them or throwing them in jail for life. Because if you don’t identify the root causes of a problem, everyone may feel a lot better for a while, but the problem will inevitably repeat itself.

In any accident investigation, there are direct causes (e.g. failure to set enough hand brakes) of the incident and then there are the systemic, inherent or root causes. It is those indirect, systemic causes for which changes can actually make meaningful change. As Hopkins describes, the latent conditions (poor design, gaps in supervision, maintenance failures, shortfalls in training, etc. etc.), if not corrected, will eventually “combine with local circumstances and active failures to penetrate the system’s many layers of defences.”

Blame the Worker: It is always convenient for management, and in this case even governments, to ignore the latent conditions described above, and blame workers for incidents. And the bigger the disaster, the greater the temptation to find and easy and convenient scapegoat. So before we explore this disaster, let’s look at the concept of blame the worker.

First, it is indisputable that Harding set too few hand brakes. But as Hopkins points out,

human beings inevitably make errors and errors by operators must be expected. Thus, rather than focusing on the operators who make the errors, modern accident analysis looks for the conditions which make the errors possible. It is nearly always the case that there was a whole series of contributory factors which created an operator error and set up the situation which made the error critical. Accident analyses which aim to prevent a recurrence seek to identify these factors. From this perspective, errors are seen as consequence rather than principal causes.

And if the focus in on “blame” instead of “why” and the blame starts and stops with a worker who made a mistake, then the real causes of the incident will never be identified, never addressed and the same thing will eventually happen again.

So let’s start looking at principal causes.

Layers of Protection: Also known as “defense in depth” or “safety redundancy,” in its simplest explanation having more than one way to keep a catastrophic even from occurring so that a “single-point failure” does not lead to catastrophic consequence . Ideally, these layers of protection should be independent of each other, so that the failure of one does not mean the failure of any others. Harding’s train, for example, had three brake systems: the hand brakes which were set on each individual car, the locomotive air brake (also known as the independent brake), which secures the locomotives and the automatic brake holds the rail cars in place. Harding set seven hand brakes and also set the independent brake. This was enough to hold the train when Harding was told to leave for the evening. But during the fire, the engine was shut down to keep it from leaking any more flammable oil into the flames. The problem was that without engine power, the independent brake gradually lost power and the hand brakes weren’t enough to hold the train on the hill. The train began to descend down the track, eventually speeding up to 65 mph into Lac-Mégantic, where it derailed. Harding was accused of not setting enough hand brakes on each car to keep the train from rolling down a hill.

But the Toronto Globe and Mail, which looked deeper into the incident noticed something important in the TSB report:

On page 105 of the 179-page report, a single paragraph suggests the accident “likely” would have been avoided had the air brakes on the rail cars (the automatic brake) been set as a backup safety precaution before the train was left unattended. However, Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway (MMA) instructed its staff not to use the automatic brakes.Transport Canada [which regulates and oversees Canadian railroads) either didn’t notice this practice or saw no problem with it.

Specifically, the TSB report said that “While MMA instructions did not allow the automatic brakes to be set following a proper hand brake effectiveness test, doing so would have acted as a temporary secondary defence, one that likely would have kept the train secured, even after the eventual release of the independent brakes.”

And why did MMA instructions not allow the automatic brake to be set? According to the Globe,

because air needs to be pumped back into the brake line in order to reset the system and get the automatic brakes on each car to release, it can sometimes take from 15 minutes to an hour to get a train moving again once it’s been parked.For this reason, some railways don’t like using the automatic air brakes as an added assurance or backup to the hand brakes, because it can cost time and money, the rail industry expert said.

It is far-fetched to think the automatic brake wouldn’t have played a direct role in preventing the accident, the person said. “This common sense, 10-second procedure has been used to secure rail cars for the last hundred years,” the rail industry source said.

When the Globe asked the TSB why this important finding was buried in the report, the TSB responded that “it didn’t want to distract from the main point that trains should be secured with the correct number of hand brakes.”

But that’s not all. The locomotive involved in the Lac Mégantic incident should have had yet another fail-safe device. The locomotive was equipped with a reset safety control (RSC) which activates alarms and then applies a penalty brake if the train begins to run away, even when the engine is shut down. Unfortunately, MMA had rewired the RSC incorrectly and did not stop the train when it began to run away.

Run to Failure Maintenance: You may not change a light bulb until it burns out or change the washers on your faucet until it starts leaking, but if you’re running a refinery, steel mill — or a railroad — just letting things break down before you fix them isn’t a very safe way to operate. High reliability organizations have strong preventive maintenance programs and a major element of OSHA’s Process Safety Management standard is “Mechanical Integrity,” which aims to prevent catastrophic incident by ensuring that procedures are implemented to prevent incidents through the proper maintenance of equipment. In this case, the lead locomotive was in terrible shape. Several months before, it has been to the repair shop. Instead of a lengthy standard repair, the company decided to essentially glue it back together with an epoxy-like material that lacked the required strength and durability of a permanent repair. The TSB report called this “a non-standard and less costly method” of repair. The night of July 5, the lead locomotive broke down on a hill above Lac-Mégantic. The Globe noted that “MMA, which declared bankruptcy after the derailment, had a reputation as one of the most aggressive cost-cutters in the rail industry.”

Profit: Even after the fire started, MMA did not call Harding, the Lead Engineer, back to the train to start another engine “due to the impact that it would have on train departure time the following morning and due to mandatory rest provisions.”

Normalization of Deviance: Normalization of deviance or of abnormality occurs when people become accustomed to violations of procedures or small incidents that don’t result in catastrophe. In this case, the official procedure was to perform a “handbrake effectiveness test” to confirm that the handbrakes alone could hold the train. This was supposed to be performed by releasing the independent brake to see if the hand brakes alone would hold the train. Harding did not release the independent brake when performing the test. The Globe speculated that the absence of previous problems may have been taken as an indicator of future success. Other MMA Lead Engineers also did not release the independent brakes when securing trains, which is indicative that poor train securement practices were not isolated to this accident.

The TSB report that in previous cases, Harding had also not set the officially required number of brakes, but nothing bad had happened. The report suggested that “The absence of previous problems may have been taken as an indicator of future success.”

But Wasn’t The Engineer Still At Fault?

OK, even with all of that, Harding did not set enough brakes. Why didn’t he set the correct number of brakes and why shouldn’t he be convicted? Let’s keep looking at other factors that led to the incident.

Training: The TSB report named “weaknesses in the process for ensuring adequate employee training” as one of the crucial indicators that MMS did not have a functioning safety management system. More specifically, the report found that “Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway did not provide effective training or oversight to ensure that crews understood and complied with rules governing train securement. ”

One of the reasons training was important is that figuring out how many hand brakes to set was complicated — too complicated for me to explain here, but go ahead and read the report if you’re really interested. To simplify, the number of handbrakes that had to be set was a function of the total number of cars, how many of them were loaded, the weather conditions, and the grade of the track. Each rail company in Canada had slightly different rules for how many hand brakes had to be set.

The engineer set the air brakes on the locomotive an 7 brakes on the individual cars. According to MMS procedures, the basic formula was 10% of the cars plus 2, which meant he should have set 9 brakes . But “TSB testing showed that this number would not have provided sufficient retarding force to hold the train once the air pressure in the independent brake system was reduced.” In fact, the TSB concluded that, depending on various scenarios, the engineer would have needed to apply between 12 and 26 hand brakes in order to hold the train.

The TSB report speculated that Harding

was not fully conversant with relevant rules and special instructions on train securement. Although the LE’s results from his requalification tests indicated that he had correctly answered questions relating to the minimum number of hand brakes, these questions were relatively simple and did not demonstrate that the LE possessed knowledge of the significance and rationale behind the rules. Furthermore, the LE was never tested on the procedures for performing a hand brake effectiveness test, nor did the company’s Operational Tests and Inspections (OTIS) Program confirm that hand brake effectiveness tests were being conducted correctly. In addition, the LE did not have all of the required documents with him on board the train, and could not easily refer to rules and company instructions.

Rail employees were required to pass re-certification exams every three years. According to the TSB report, the multiple choice re-qualification exam “repeated the same question on the minimum number of hand brakes for leaving unattended equipment. They did not have questions on the hand brake effectiveness test, the conditions requiring application of more than the minimum number of hand brakes, nor the stipulation that air brakes cannot be relied upon to prevent an undesired movement.” Hopkins notes that this type of “competency based training” just allows for specific knowledge of procedures, but does not test for understanding of the process.

So in summary, determining how many hand brakes to set is complicated, training is problematic, re-certification exams don’t test for competency or understanding of the whole complex process of securing a train.

Single Person Train Operation (SPTO): Harding, as mentioned above was the Lead Engineer, and also the lone crew member on the giant 72 car train. SPTO is permitted in Canada, and although the TSB could not find any evidence that SPTO led to the incident, they did describe some of the problems with it:

There are also demonstrated risks to SPTO, including reduced joint compliance (which can help catch errors), a tendency to take shortcuts, additional physical and time-related requirements for a single person to perform tasks, the possibility that individuals working alone will be subject to fatigue and cognitive degradations, and the need for additional training to properly prepare Lead Engineers (LEs) to work alone. It is also important to consider how a single operator might deal with the abnormal conditions that may arise, as well as whether all safety-critical tasks (such as the application of hand brakes and the performance of a hand brake effectiveness test) can be performed in a reasonable amount of time.

The TSB also noted that “The minimum hand brake requirement was more consistently met when trains were operated by 2 crew members.” Finally, the reported noted that although TC Canada (the regulatory agency) had required that MMA conduct a risk assessment of SPTO, “TC did not follow up to verify that the mitigation measures identified in MMA’s risk assessment had been implemented and were effective.”

Would another crew member on board the train have made a difference? Would two heads have been better than one in determining the correct number of hand brakes? If there were two crew members at the hotel, would one of them been able to return to the train and realize that another engine needed to be started to secure the air brakes? Who knows?

Megantic worker
TSB Findings
Oversight: The TSB report also criticized the railroad’s regulatory body, TC Canada’s (and more specifically TC Quebec’s), for weak oversight of MMA, despite the fact that “for several years, MMA had been identified as a railway company with an elevated level of risk requiring more frequent inspections.” TC Canada had identified several repeated problems in the past, including problems with train securement (identified on multiple occasions since 2005), , and were still present at the time of the accident, training deficiencies, and problems with track conditions. And “TC Quebec Region did not follow up to ensure that recurring safety deficiencies at MMA were effectively analyzed and corrected; consequently, unsafe practices persisted.”

The Other Rail Employees

In addition to Harding, rail traffic controller (RTC) Richard Labrie and manager of train operations Jean Demaitre also face 47 counts of criminal negligence causing death. Labrie was the main rail employee that Harding communicated with that night. According to the TSB report, Labrie

was aware that no locomotive was left running. “However, he knew that train securement should not be dependent on a running locomotive, and assumed that the train had been adequately secured with sufficient hand brakes. Without a compelling cue to the contrary, the RTC did not consider that shutting down the locomotives would affect the securement of the train.

RTC’s are a also a critical component of safe Single Person Train Operation (SPTO) — the lone engineer is supposed to be in frequent contact with the RTC. But the report also noted serious shortcomings in implementation of SPTO safety procedures:

The SPTO training did not include a review of securement rules and instructions. Furthermore, no job task analysis was discussed with employees, nor were all of the potential hazards associated with the tasks identified, notably the risks associated with single-operator train securement at the end of a shift. Consequently, no mitigation measure was identified for this critical task, such as confirming with an RTC how a train was secured, or even questioning the practice of leaving a train on the main track in Nantes when securement relied on a single operator.

Furthermore, although MMS had a process where supervisors could conduct unannounced monitoring of employees for adherence to railway safety rules and instructions. But no such inspection had ever occurred to ensure proper train securement in the area of Lac Megantic. Labrie reported to Demaitre, the manager of train operations.

Conclusion

OK, I could go on and on about addition issues that the TSB report raises (tank care integrity, track condition, lack of audits, and on and on), but I think we’ve discussed enough. What we have here in a nutshell is a railroad that cut corners on safety and maintenance wherever it could, a lousy training program for a very complicated, safety sensitive operation. and an oversight agency that didn’t do very good oversight.

In other words, only the most superficial analysis of this horrible tragedy would conclude that Tom Harding, the Lead Engineer and sole crew member, should be blamed for the deaths of 47 people, dragged into jail, prosecuted and possibly sent to prison for the rest of his life. It may make some people feel good, and it may take the blame off of others. But it will do nothing to prevent future catastrophes.

That’s no way to run a railroad.

More information on the Campaign to Defend the Lac-Mégantic workers here.

Support the scapegoated Lac-Mégantic rail workers! All our safety and health depends upon it.
http://hardingdefense.org
Donate now!

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admin August 5, 2017Uncategorized
Safe Rail and Sustainable Communities
Music Benefit for Lac-Mégantic Rail Worker Defense a great success!
Over $1700 raised kicking off fund drive for defense of the scapegoated rail workers and fighting for safe rails everywhere.
Get an event together in your community. Join the fight for the true story about the causes of the Lac-Mégantic wreck.
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admin July 12, 2017Uncategorized
Music for Rail Safety
On the night of July 6th, 2013, dozens of family members and neighbors gathered at a great little music club called the Musi-Cafe at the town center to hear bands.

In the blink of an eye almost all of them were incinerated by the explosion and fiery inferno resulting from a wrecked train of mislabeled volatile Bakken oil. The next day this is what the Musi-Cafe looked like.

In the aftermath, the railroad and the government has sought to blame the employees for the natural result of the combined reckless work rules and policies that undercut safety and even basic common sense.

Tomorrow, Sunday, July 9th, crowds of rail supporters will gather at the Dew Drop Inn in DC to hear bands. The music, happy hour, food and good times will be great. Every railroader deserves and could use that kind of good time.

But that good time will be for a purpose that will impact all of our futures. The threats we must face include under funding, destruction of infrastructure, risky work schedules, cram down work contracts, cuts to Railroad Retirement and the list continues.

Remember Lac-Mégantic but fight like hell so it never happens in another town. Fight for a rail bypass of the town of Lac-Mégantic because the railroad and government have completely failed them and they deserve relief.

The wrong men are on trial this fall. Justice for Lac-Mégantic AND rail safety going forwards requires real accountability for dangerous railroad manager policies.

Please donate and build local support for the defense.

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admin July 8, 2017Uncategorized
Music Benefit for Safe Rails and Sustainable Communities
A fundraiser to benefit the defense of the scapegoated
Lac-Mégantic Rail Workers

Featuring the U-Liners

with Tom & Elisabeth

4 years after the devastating oil train wreck that destroyed the town of Lac-Mégantic in Quebec, two railroad workers face criminal charges for a tragedy caused by unsafe railroad management policies.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

6:30 pm-8:15 pm

Dew Drop Inn

2801 8th St NE (below Franklin St)

Washington DC

Suggested donation: $20 (please contribute what you can)

Proceeds support the Lac-Mégantic Rail Workers Defense

https://tinyurl.com/Harding-Labrie-Defense

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admin July 3, 2017Uncategorized
Summer of Solidarity and Rail Safety
How many more have to die?
July 6th this year marks four years since a runaway train carrying volatile Bakken crude crashed and burned in the small town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, killing 47 and destroying half the town. It’s time to recommit to making sure tragedies like this don’t happen again. It’s also the right time to speak up against the criminal trial beginning September 11th this year, that unfairly and inaccurately hangs the Lac-Mégantic crash on two railroad workers, Tom Harding and Richard Labrie.

Railroad managers push hard to squeeze every dollar they can out of every train run. The Lac-Mégantic train had a dangerous cargo, overlong train, defective equipment, a single crew-member and work rules that cut the margin of safety down to just about zero. The result was a disaster that still impacts the Lac-Mégantic community.

Multiple government safety investigations and independent journalists looked at what happened in Lac-Mégantic and came to the same conclusion. Railroad management policies made this kind of runaway train crash likely to happen sooner or later. Lax government oversight looked the other way until it did.

You would think that four years later there would be stronger safety regulations on every railroad, with extra layers of protection for dangerous cargo. Sadly, this is not the case. Railroad policymakers are still cutting corners and government regulators are still looking the other way. They want people to believe that the big safety problem is a few careless railroad workers. But in Lac-Mégantic, SINCE the wreck, the supposedly safely restored wreck curve has now deteriorated and keeps that community at risk. Everyone there tightens up when a train passes now.

Even after all the reports and exposes, the Canadian and Quebec governments are still not going after the railroad policy makers and their unsafe policies. The managers who made the critical policies will not even get a slap on the wrist. That’s just wrong, and it guarantees that the danger continues. Every year since the crash, the number of reported runaway trains in Canada has increased. That’s a sign of a reckless culture, not the actions of two rail-road workers one night in Quebec.

Whether your main issue is the environment, community safety, rail safety, or worker’s rights, it comes down to stronger government regulations and stronger railroad safety policies, with real community and labor enforcement. The two railroad workers were not the cause of the Lac-Mégantic crash or any of the runaway trains since then. They are not the ones still running trains right through the town of Lac-Mégantic, ignoring the demands of the survivors for a simple rail bypass. The people in Lac-Mégantic know that sending Harding and Labrie to prison won’t address any of their problems with the railroad. But if that happens, you can bet the government will close the book as the official verdict on Lac-Mégantic and railroad management will be standing there with them.

When you hold public commemorations this year, we ask you to make this point your way. Blaming Harding and Labrie for the Lac-Mégantic tragedy weakens all of us and all our causes. So all of us have to speak up.

Donate now to help ensure a vigorous and fair legal defense
Justice for Lac-Mégantic requires Dropping the Charges Against Harding & Labrie
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admin July 3, 2017Uncategorized
September 13th: Thousands petition to Drop the Charges Against Harding and Labrie

img_2877

September 13, 2016, supporters representing over 2200 petitioners from across North America attended court proceedings in Sherbrooke QC, calling for the dropping of criminal charges against Harding and Labrie and prosecution of the policy makers and real culprits responsible for the Lac-Mégantic train wreck in 2o13.

Almost 2800 petition signers, including public officials, rail safety activists, community activists as well as labor union members in rail and other industries ultimately took part in the campaign for justice, rail safety and real accountability for the tragedy. Petitions were delivered to representatives of the Crown prosecutors at the hearing and continued to be delivered as they came in into October.

The September 13th hearing set the date and scope for the criminal trial phase, beginning September 11, 2017.

Prosecutors in the case face mounting public dissent concerning the scapegoating of Harding and Labrie as well as legal challenges due to the maneuvers of the bankrupt Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railroad (MMA). The policy decision makers of the MMA who are now known to have directed the actions that led to the wreck are free of charge and operating rail operations elsewhere including in the United States.

harding-13th-press-release-final

Supporters to Demand “Drop the Charges – Focus on Rail Safety” at Court Hearing on Lac-Mégantic Tragedy

Committee will deliver thousands of petitions calling for the Canadian and Quebec authorities to drop the charges against railroad workers Tom Harding and Richard Labrie

For Immediate Release: Thursday, September 8, 2016

Contact: Fritz Edler, justice@hardingdefense.org, (202) 494-3848

Time: Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Place: Palais de Justice, 375 Rue King Ouest (corner of King and Belvédère), Sherbrooke, QC

(Sherbrooke, QC)-Representatives of the Harding and Labrie Defense Committee, Railroad Workers United (RWU) and community allies from the Lac Mégantic area will be at the procedural hearings at the Palais de Justice in Sherbrooke, QC on September 13th, 2016 carrying petitions signed by over 2000 people across North America calling for ending the prosecution of Canadian railworkers Tom Harding and Richard Labrie. Harding and Labrie have been targeted and charged under the Criminal Code as well as the Railroad Safety Act and other laws. The charges could result in prison terms up to life.

“Investigations have already determined that the actions of these two were not the predominate cause the Lac-Mégantic tragedy,” said Committee representative Fritz Edler, a 35-year veteran train engineer. “The runaway train that killed 47 and destroyed half the town was the result of railroad managerial irresponsibility compounded by a failure of government oversight and safety regulation. There was a lax safety culture that has to change.”

The irresponsible practice of sending out unit trains of the most volatile kind with only a single crew member illustrates the disregard for public safety by the Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railroad (MMA) whose most important policymakers have had no legal penalty.

“The number of runaway trains reported across Canada has increased every year since Lac­ Mégantic,” Edler added. “It’s no wonder the people of Lac Mégantic have no confidence in the current actions of the railroad companies or the government agencies to keep them safe, and are calling for the tracks to detour around the town rather than run through it.”

Supporters will gather at 9 am on September 13th in the Palais de Justice Square in Sherbrooke to present the petitions. After the procedural hearing, Harding’s legal defense team will update supporters on the latest developments in the case.

###

The Harding and Labrie Defense Committee was formed in 2015 to organize defense for Canadian Rail Steelworkers Tom Harding and Richard Labrie; who have been scapegoated for the tragic Lac-Mégantic trainwreck in 2013. Facts developed since the wreck by investigators for the Government and independent journalists make clear that railroad policies were responsible for creating the culture of negligence that led to that disaster.

Railroad Workers United (RWU) is a North American cross-craft solidarity and advocacy organization of railworkers and their supporters. RWU members and supporters on railroads across North America are monitoring the Harding/Labrie case closely. RWU believes jailing Harding and Labrie will be an obstacle to current day safety culture on Canada’s railways, as well as a roadblock to getting full accountability for the Mégantic wreck.

For more information, visit www.hardingdefense.org or follow us on Twitter @harding_labrie

admin September 9, 2016Uncategorized0
Two Weeks – Two Fronts in Fight for Rail Safety
June 20 – Drop the Charges July 6th – No More Lac-Mégantics

Three years ago, on July 6, 2013, a small town in Quebec became a symbol of the need for greater focus on rail safety throughout North America. A runaway Bakken oil train exploded and burned in the downtown. 47 people were killed immediately and another 3 have taken their own lives in the last three years in the devastating aftermath which has left a legacy of destruction and environmental damage which will never be truly overcome.

The Lac-Mégantic tragedy will be back in the news twice in a matter of weeks. The Citizens Coalition in Lac-Mégantic has called for July 6th this year to be a day of remembrance for the victims of the crash and a day to recommit to greater rail safety. Railroad workers, environmental activists and other community groups concerned about railroad safety will express their solidarity by answering that call and take time out on July 6th to say No More Lac-Mégantics. Railroad Workers United will join with others on July 6th in Chicago for a special forum on rail safety centered on the issues raised in Lac-Mégantic. Actions are underway in other cities as well.

This commemoration will come just two weeks after the latest events in a legal battle that should have ended long ago – the drive to scapegoat railroad workers and let unsafe railroad policies off the hook.

Everybody wanted to know what was responsible for the tragedy. People called for a complete and thorough investigation to determine the facts and the guilty parties. But the Canadian government jumped the gun and theatrically charged the engineer, Tom Harding, and his dispatcher, Richard Labrie with 47 counts of criminal negligence resulting in death.

Ultimately investigation by the Canadian Transportation Safety Board and courageous investigative reporters turned up serious evidence that laid the responsibility for the crash at the feet of decisions and policies of the railroad company, the Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway (MMA). These unsafe corporate policies and decisions had been ignored or even endorsed by the Canadian regulators responsible for overseeing rail safety.

The evidence is now very clear. The actions of Engineer Tom Harding and dispatcher Richard Labrie DID NOT cause the Lac-Mégantic wreck. If the MMA hadn’t imposed unsafe procedures on its train crews, with Transport Canada regulators looking the other way, there would not have been a runaway train and explosion in Lac-Mégantic.

The MMA was not the only party taking shortcuts. On June 20th this year, Tom Harding’s lawyer is going to court to address the Canadian government’s rush to judgement. Crown Prosecutors used loopholes to avoid holding a Preliminary Hearing, which would have given the defendants an opportunity to challenge the supposed evidence and preview the theory of the prosecution. A Preliminary Hearing would have been normal in most proceedings of this kind. Harding’s lawyer is now forced to present a motion for “Disclosure”, as well as a motion to “Stay the Proceedings”, based in part on the denial of Harding’s right to a Preliminary Hearing. Even if the Court grants Harding’s defense motions (the Crown has filed motions to “quash” them) it will not be the end of the need for us to use every means to get out the word about this wrongful prosecution going forward.

If railroading Tom Harding and Richard Labrie to prison wasn’t bad enough, the Canadian government has blocked the efforts of the Citizens Coalition of Lac-Mégantic to move the railroad tracks from the center of town and to make real rail safety a top priority going forward. The government wants to narrow the issue to oil trains and declare the danger over. But rail safety is not just about unsafe cargo. The people who live by the tracks and those who run the trains must be party to determining whether safe conditions are maintained.

The Canadian government must stop the prosecution of railroad workers for a tragedy they did not cause, and they and the U.S. government must speed up addressing unsafe railroad practices and conditions in Lac-Mégantic and everywhere. Every Railroad worker and everyone who cares about railroad safety has a stake in the outcome of this. We all need to be watching what happens in the courtroom on June 20th and be prepared to stand up for rail safety on July 6th.

Drop the Charges – No More Lac-Mégantics
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admin June 17, 2016Uncategorized
Sign the Petition!
Drop the Charges against Tom Harding and Richard Labrie

Target: The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and the Honourable Stéphanie Vallée, Minister of Justice, QC

Tags: steroidsLac Mégantic
Categories: Labor News

Barcelona Dockworkers Refuse to Operate Police Ship Sent to Thwart Referendum

Wed, 09/27/2017 - 22:08

Barcelona Dockworkers Refuse to Operate Police Ship Sent to Thwart Referendum
http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=2443620&CategoryId=12395

BARCELONA – Barcelona dockworkers announced on Thursday that, in order to defend civil rights, they had voted not to operate a cruise ship charted by Spain’s interior ministry to house police reinforcements sent to the Catalonia region ahead of a contentious independence referendum.

The Rhapsody cruise ship, which can hold up to 2,500 passengers, was currently sat in Barcelona’s port.

“In a general assembly, Barcelona’s stevedores have voted not to operate the Rhapsody ship in defense of civil rights,” the Barcelona dockworker union, OEPB, announced on its official Twitter.

A total of four cruise ships charted by the Spanish government were sat off the coast of Catalonia to house the extra police officers sent to the affluent northeastern region of Spain.

Sources at Barcelona’s port said the stevedores’ decision would have repercussions, but pointed out that this union is usually charged with unloading cargo ships rather than cruise ships such as the Rhapsody, which does not require the same process in order to dock and unload.

Political tensions were running high in Catalonia, where the regional separatist forces are pushing for an independence referendum to be held on Oct. 1.

The move has been ruled illegal by the national government and the Spanish courts.

Pro-separatist protests escalated on Wednesday after several senior officials in the regional government were arrested during police raids to confiscate all material related to the referendum.

Tags: Barcelona Dockworkerscivil rightspolice repression
Categories: Labor News

Barcelona Dockworkers Refuse to Operate Police Ship Sent to Thwart Referendum

Wed, 09/27/2017 - 22:08

Barcelona Dockworkers Refuse to Operate Police Ship Sent to Thwart Referendum
http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=2443620&CategoryId=12395

BARCELONA – Barcelona dockworkers announced on Thursday that, in order to defend civil rights, they had voted not to operate a cruise ship charted by Spain’s interior ministry to house police reinforcements sent to the Catalonia region ahead of a contentious independence referendum.

The Rhapsody cruise ship, which can hold up to 2,500 passengers, was currently sat in Barcelona’s port.

“In a general assembly, Barcelona’s stevedores have voted not to operate the Rhapsody ship in defense of civil rights,” the Barcelona dockworker union, OEPB, announced on its official Twitter.

A total of four cruise ships charted by the Spanish government were sat off the coast of Catalonia to house the extra police officers sent to the affluent northeastern region of Spain.

Sources at Barcelona’s port said the stevedores’ decision would have repercussions, but pointed out that this union is usually charged with unloading cargo ships rather than cruise ships such as the Rhapsody, which does not require the same process in order to dock and unload.

Political tensions were running high in Catalonia, where the regional separatist forces are pushing for an independence referendum to be held on Oct. 1.

The move has been ruled illegal by the national government and the Spanish courts.

Pro-separatist protests escalated on Wednesday after several senior officials in the regional government were arrested during police raids to confiscate all material related to the referendum.

Tags: Barcelona Dockworkerscivil rightspolice repression
Categories: Labor News

This Lawyer Helped Reagan Bust the Air Traffic Controllers Union. Now Trump Wants Him on the NLRB.

Wed, 09/27/2017 - 04:53

This Lawyer Helped Reagan Bust the Air Traffic Controllers Union. Now Trump Wants Him on the NLRB.
HTTP://INTHESETIMES.COM/WORKING/ENTRY/20540/RONALD-REAGAN-AIR-TRAFFIC-CONTROLLERS-UNION-BUSTING-PATCO-NLRB
THURSDAY, SEP 21, 2017, 2:25 PM
BY MICHAEL ARRIA

Members of PATCO, the air traffic controllers union, hold hands and raise their arms as their deadline to return to work passes. All strikers were fired on the order of President Reagan on August 5, 1981. (Photo: Getty Images)

Former President Ronald Reagan had a long history of clashing with organized labor, but his most infamous moment came in 1981, when he busted the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) and fired more than 11,300 air traffic controllers who were on strike. This act weakened the power of U.S. unions and set the stage for an all-out assault on organizing rights.

Thirty-six years later, Reagan’s lead attorney in the air traffic controllers case is poised to make decisions about thousands of unfair labor practices throughout the country.

As anticipated, President Donald Trump has nominated the management-side labor attorney Peter Robb, of Downs Rachlin Martin in Vermont, to serve as general counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). This is a four-year position, and the individual who holds it is responsible for investigating unfair labor practices. Obama administration general counsel Richard Griffin’s term expires this November and, if confirmed, Robb would take over the position.

In 1981, Robb filed unfair labor practice charges against PATCO on behalf of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) after a court ruled that the air traffic controllers’ strike was illegal. The FLRA case led to the decertification of PATCO, and Reagan subsequently banned most striking workers from federal service for their rest of their lives.

Reagan’s move set a new precedent for employers, emboldening them to attack labor more openly. In an interview with The Real News Network from 2014, Joseph McCartin, Georgetown history professor and author of Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike that Changed America, explainedthe long-term impact. “When Ronald Reagan replaced the air traffic controllers [in] 1981, it was still not common for American employers in the private sector to deal with strikes by trying to break them and by permanently replacing workers who'd gone out on strike,” said McCartin, “Employers saw that Reagan was able to do this and, in effect, get away with it. Many private-sector employers took a similarly hard line when workers went out on strike in the private sector.”

Robb’s connections to union busting certainly don’t end with the landmark PATCO case. In 2014, he was hired by the Dominion Nuclear power plant when the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) began organizing workers. The Downs Rachlin Martin website contains a blurb boasting that Robb “represented a major national corporation in a National Labor Relations Board representation case proceeding, which had 34-days of hearing over 3 months to resolve 80 contested classifications covering hundreds of employees.”

In an interview this September, John Fernandes, a business manager for IBEW Local 457, told Bloomberg BNA that Robb represented used “scorched earth” tactics to thwart the organizing efforts. Fernandes says the plant added workers to the proposed unit in order to water down the union vote and sent videos of managers explaining the dangers of unionizing to the homes of employees. Ultimately, the plant was able to add more than 150 workers to the original petition and defeat the organizing drive.

“[Robb] handled most of the direct examinations, and his witnesses were well-schooled in advance—he’d ask one question and they’d go on forever,” Fernandes toldBloomberg BNA. “I was at a disadvantage, not being an attorney, but [the legal fees] would’ve been overwhelming for our local to pay … we certainly viewed it as union busting—it was a very long case.”

Robb also has previous connections to the NLRB. He worked as an NLRB field attorney in Baltimore during the late 1970s. He returned to the agency in 1982 as a staff lawyer and chief counsel for former member Robert Hunter. As a Republican, Hunter was an important ally to then-Chairman Donald Dotson, a staunchly anti-union member. In 1985, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told The Washington Post that Hunter had been the, “most loyal supporter of Donald Dotson in the transformation of the NLRB into a fundamentally anti-union entity.”

More recently, Robb’s firm harshly criticized the Obama-era NLRB, as captured in a slideshow compiled by Robb and Downs Rachlin attorney Timothy Copeland Jr. The presentation took aim at some of the pro-labor positions made by the NLRB under the previous administration. “The [Democratic] NLRB majority continues to narrowly define NLRB supervisory status, sometimes defying all common sense,” one slide reads. New Republican members are “likely to agree that the Obama board went too far,” the slideshow explained.

One of the decisions that Robb objects to is a 2014 rule that cuts back the amount of time between the filing of a unionization petition and the union vote to 11 days. The GOP has been attempting to extend the number of days to at least 35. This move would give businesses more time to construct a plan to stomp out union activity, like the aforementioned Dominion Nuclear strategy.

“The NLRB has made it clear that the intent of the new regulations is to run an election as quickly as possible which, of course, will give the employer the shortest period of time to respond to a union election petition,” Robb and three other Downs Rachlin lawyers wrote in a 2015 advisory.

The Trump administration has already quietly laid the groundwork for the NLRB to emerge as a much more business-friendly entity. This reality was underscored in August, when Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta announced that Ronald Reagan would be inducted into the department’s hall of fame. Trump’s previous NLRB nominees all have connections to union-busting, and the expected nomination of Robb would effectively make the NLRB—responsible for enforcing labor law—an anti-labor agency.

MICHAEL ARRIA
Michael Arria covers labor and social movements. Follow him on Twitter: @michaelarria

Tags: nlrbPATCOunion busting
Categories: Labor News

Former NYC TWU 100 President John Samuelsen elected as president of Transport Workers Union

Tue, 09/26/2017 - 22:14

Former NYC TWU 100 President John Samuelsen elected as president of Transport Workers Union
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/john-samuelsen-elected-president-tra...
TWU president John Samuelsen speaking after winning his first full four-year term as president of the union.
TWU president John Samuelsen speaking after winning his first full four-year term as president of the union. (ALAN SALY)
BY
GINGER ADAMS OTIS
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Tuesday, September 26, 2017, 8:18 PM
Transport Workers Union members elected John Samuelsen to his first four-year term as president Tuesday at the union’s annual convention in Las Vegas attended by Gov. Cuomo.

Samuelsen, a former track worker who became the head of TWU Local 100, stepped into the role of international president in May 2017 when the incumbent retired mid-term.

He faced one challenger on Tuesday, Joe Campbell, former TWU chairman of the car equipment division and staffer under Samuelsen’s predecessor Roger Touissant.

Samuelsen won by a landslide, 364 to 36.

His slate won by a similar decisive margin, the union said. Cuomo spoke at the TWU convention ahead of the vote.

Samuelsen is currently embroiled in a contentious organizing drive with flight attendants at JetBlue airlines, which is based in New York

TWU has already organized two other airlines, Allegiant and Southwest.Taking aim at airlines that “act like the robber barons of the 1880s,” is a main priority for Samuelsen now that he’s got a four-year term ahead of him, he told the Daily News.

Samuelsen is battling to organize JetBlue flight attendants.
Samuelsen is battling to organize JetBlue flight attendants. (SETH WENIG/AP)
“We are investing huge amounts of resources into JetBlue. It’s top of our list,” he said.

“I have my own way of doing things, and we’re going to bring that style to the national union, and we’re going after the nearly 5,000 unorganized JetBlue flight attendants who have no union working for them,” he said.

JetBlue’s management has not been welcoming to TWU.

It began distributing flyers and emailing staffers with its own messaging — namely, that inviting in a “third-party” union was a bad idea.

Union, MTA to talk safety at hearing after worker's death

“TWU is an opportunistic and negative third party,” the airline wrote to inflight crew in a recent “Note from John,” a message from vice president John Culp.

The flyer blamed TWU’s “corporate strategists” in D.C. for stirring up drama and said the union’s leaders have a history of “criminal behavior” and labor violations.

“Keep in mind that a card is a legal document that you can’t take back: If you sign one today and change your mind tomorrow, you can't get it back. You do not need to sign a card to participate in a union election,” the “Note from John said.

Workers congratulate TWU president John Samuelsen after a landslide vote in his favor Tuesday.
Workers congratulate TWU president John Samuelsen after a landslide vote in his favor Tuesday. (PETE DONOHUE)
“Expect to hear lots of empty promises from the TWU,” it added, and warned that TWU union members are “known to harass” and use “extremely aggressive tactics.”

MTA permitted to ban transit union ads demanding pay raise

Samuelsen said the negative messaging from management was a sign his campaign was gaining ground.

“We don’t organize from the top down — this whole drive is from the ground up. We’ve met with various organizing committees in JetBlue and the JetBlue workers are doing a really good job of standing up for themselves,” he said. “This is no third-party outsider coming in to stir up trouble, it’s an employee-driven campaign to get better rights and working conditions,” he said.

JetBlue’s note also criticized TWU for abandoning other workers it organized in airlines out West and in the South.

“Other airline employees have been left high and dry by the TWU,” JetBlue wrote, pointing specifically to Allegiant and Southwest.

Transit union boss backs cheaper MetroCard fares for the poor

Samuelsen said his union had seen and already issued a rebuttal to JetBlue’s “misinformation” campaign.

The TWU has two solid contracts with Southwest covering 12,000 ground workers and 15,000 airline attendants, he said.

A JetBlue flyer to crewmembers warning them of the dangers of joining TWU.
A JetBlue flyer to crewmembers warning them of the dangers of joining TWU.(HANDOUT)
In a scenario familiar to him from his time as a track worker for NYC Transit, he said the airline had too heavy a hand with discipline of its crews.

“The ground workers in particular are having big disciplinary problems ... the bosses think they can run the crews into the ground with an oppressive management style,” he said.

NYC transit workers ratify new MTA contract increasing raises

“Until now, they’ve not met with the proper resistance, they have had it their way. Now they’re going to run into a new TWU leadership,” he said.

At Allegiant, TWU successfully organized the workers but has yet to get the airline to the table to hammer out a collectively-bargained contract.

At all three airlines, Samuelsen said, the union was planning to pour in additional resources.

“They think they can treat workers any way they want and they’ve gotten away with it for too long without facing the sharp end of a well-financed strategic campaign,” he said.

Transit Workers Union's 10-point plan to help fix NYC subways

An Allegiant spokeswoman confirmed that TWU had organized its flight attendants but had not yet gotten a contract.

“We are as committed as ever to continuing to negotiate in good faith, and are optimistic that we will have a contract soon. We are currently in mediation with a mediator from the National Mediation Board,” the spokeswoman said.

Emails to JetBlue and Southwest were not immediately returned.

Tags: TWUJohn SamuelsonTWU 100
Categories: Labor News

Former NYC TWU 100 President John Samuelsen elected as president of Transport Workers Union

Tue, 09/26/2017 - 22:14

Former NYC TWU 100 President John Samuelsen elected as president of Transport Workers Union
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/john-samuelsen-elected-president-tra...
TWU president John Samuelsen speaking after winning his first full four-year term as president of the union.
TWU president John Samuelsen speaking after winning his first full four-year term as president of the union. (ALAN SALY)
BY
GINGER ADAMS OTIS
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Tuesday, September 26, 2017, 8:18 PM
Transport Workers Union members elected John Samuelsen to his first four-year term as president Tuesday at the union’s annual convention in Las Vegas attended by Gov. Cuomo.

Samuelsen, a former track worker who became the head of TWU Local 100, stepped into the role of international president in May 2017 when the incumbent retired mid-term.

He faced one challenger on Tuesday, Joe Campbell, former TWU chairman of the car equipment division and staffer under Samuelsen’s predecessor Roger Touissant.

Samuelsen won by a landslide, 364 to 36.

His slate won by a similar decisive margin, the union said. Cuomo spoke at the TWU convention ahead of the vote.

Samuelsen is currently embroiled in a contentious organizing drive with flight attendants at JetBlue airlines, which is based in New York

TWU has already organized two other airlines, Allegiant and Southwest.Taking aim at airlines that “act like the robber barons of the 1880s,” is a main priority for Samuelsen now that he’s got a four-year term ahead of him, he told the Daily News.

Samuelsen is battling to organize JetBlue flight attendants.
Samuelsen is battling to organize JetBlue flight attendants. (SETH WENIG/AP)
“We are investing huge amounts of resources into JetBlue. It’s top of our list,” he said.

“I have my own way of doing things, and we’re going to bring that style to the national union, and we’re going after the nearly 5,000 unorganized JetBlue flight attendants who have no union working for them,” he said.

JetBlue’s management has not been welcoming to TWU.

It began distributing flyers and emailing staffers with its own messaging — namely, that inviting in a “third-party” union was a bad idea.

Union, MTA to talk safety at hearing after worker's death

“TWU is an opportunistic and negative third party,” the airline wrote to inflight crew in a recent “Note from John,” a message from vice president John Culp.

The flyer blamed TWU’s “corporate strategists” in D.C. for stirring up drama and said the union’s leaders have a history of “criminal behavior” and labor violations.

“Keep in mind that a card is a legal document that you can’t take back: If you sign one today and change your mind tomorrow, you can't get it back. You do not need to sign a card to participate in a union election,” the “Note from John said.

Workers congratulate TWU president John Samuelsen after a landslide vote in his favor Tuesday.
Workers congratulate TWU president John Samuelsen after a landslide vote in his favor Tuesday. (PETE DONOHUE)
“Expect to hear lots of empty promises from the TWU,” it added, and warned that TWU union members are “known to harass” and use “extremely aggressive tactics.”

MTA permitted to ban transit union ads demanding pay raise

Samuelsen said the negative messaging from management was a sign his campaign was gaining ground.

“We don’t organize from the top down — this whole drive is from the ground up. We’ve met with various organizing committees in JetBlue and the JetBlue workers are doing a really good job of standing up for themselves,” he said. “This is no third-party outsider coming in to stir up trouble, it’s an employee-driven campaign to get better rights and working conditions,” he said.

JetBlue’s note also criticized TWU for abandoning other workers it organized in airlines out West and in the South.

“Other airline employees have been left high and dry by the TWU,” JetBlue wrote, pointing specifically to Allegiant and Southwest.

Transit union boss backs cheaper MetroCard fares for the poor

Samuelsen said his union had seen and already issued a rebuttal to JetBlue’s “misinformation” campaign.

The TWU has two solid contracts with Southwest covering 12,000 ground workers and 15,000 airline attendants, he said.

A JetBlue flyer to crewmembers warning them of the dangers of joining TWU.
A JetBlue flyer to crewmembers warning them of the dangers of joining TWU.(HANDOUT)
In a scenario familiar to him from his time as a track worker for NYC Transit, he said the airline had too heavy a hand with discipline of its crews.

“The ground workers in particular are having big disciplinary problems ... the bosses think they can run the crews into the ground with an oppressive management style,” he said.

NYC transit workers ratify new MTA contract increasing raises

“Until now, they’ve not met with the proper resistance, they have had it their way. Now they’re going to run into a new TWU leadership,” he said.

At Allegiant, TWU successfully organized the workers but has yet to get the airline to the table to hammer out a collectively-bargained contract.

At all three airlines, Samuelsen said, the union was planning to pour in additional resources.

“They think they can treat workers any way they want and they’ve gotten away with it for too long without facing the sharp end of a well-financed strategic campaign,” he said.

Transit Workers Union's 10-point plan to help fix NYC subways

An Allegiant spokeswoman confirmed that TWU had organized its flight attendants but had not yet gotten a contract.

“We are as committed as ever to continuing to negotiate in good faith, and are optimistic that we will have a contract soon. We are currently in mediation with a mediator from the National Mediation Board,” the spokeswoman said.

Emails to JetBlue and Southwest were not immediately returned.

Tags: TWUJohn SamuelsonTWU 100
Categories: Labor News

Uber threatens to leave Quebec in protest at new rules for drivers

Tue, 09/26/2017 - 16:41

Uber threatens to leave Quebec in protest at new rules for drivers
Uber complains that 35-hour training requirement for drivers is unfair
Montreal mayor dismisses threat: ‘If they threaten to leave, I don’t care’
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/26/uber-threatens-leave-...
Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, Uber Quebec’s general manager, said: ‘What we know for sure is that if they impose 35 hours of training on us, we’ll need to leave.’
Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, Uber Quebec’s general manager, said: ‘What we know for sure is that if they impose 35 hours of training on us, we’ll need to leave.’ Photograph: Ryan Remiorz/AP
Ashifa Kassam in Toronto
@ashifa_k
Tuesday 26 September 2017 14.15 EDTLast modified on Tuesday 26 September 2017 14.58 EDT
Uber says it will stop operating in the Canadian province of Quebec if authorities push forward with plans to demand additional training of its drivers.

Last week, the Quebec government announced legislation that would require Uber drivers to undergo 35 hours of mandatory training – an amount in line with taxi drivers in the province – rather than the 20 hours currently demanded of them.

The legislation, which would also force Uber drivers to have a criminal background check carried out by police rather than private security companies and have their cars inspected every 12 months, is expected to be tabled next week.

The new rules in Quebec come as the company wages a high-profile battle against the decision to strip it of its license to operate in London.In explaining their decision, Transport for London said that “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility”.

Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, the general manager of Uber Quebec, said the company worried that the training requirements could deter drivers from signing up.

“Can you imagine someone on Airbnb that is renting his apartment once, twice or three times month or three times a year?” Guillemette asked. “That person would not be required to take 35 hours of training. And it’s the same situation for these drivers, working for Uber.”

Unless the province scrapped the proposed legislation, he said the service would stop operating in Quebec as of 14 October. “We’re not here to negotiate in public – we don’t think that’s the right approach,” he said. “The goal here is for us to sit down with the government and find ways that you can continue to operate. But what we know for sure is that if they impose 35 hours of training on us, we’ll need to leave.”

Uber began operating in Quebec last year, as a one-year pilot project that included what Guillemette described as the “most restrictive and severe regulations imposed on us in North America”. Across Canada, the company’s entry into the market has been met with a patchwork of rules and regulations, with a lack of provincial legislation barring it from operating in Vancouver and Winnipeg. But Quebec is the only province that requires Uber drivers to undergo training, said Guillemette.

The service has racked up nearly a million users in Quebec and counts more than 50 full-time employees in the provincial office, said Guillemette. “Every week we have about 5,000 drivers that drive on the platform – it’s the equivalent of 3,000 full-time jobs.”

Uber’s platform – which allows drivers to be assessed after every ride – enables the company to target its driver training, said Guillemette. “What we’ve developed is an ongoing training program, depending on the needs of the driver,” he said. “We fully agree that training is something that is important … but by trying to impose the same thing that is currently done in the old taxi industry, I don’t think it helps us to move forward and serve the population.”

London’s decision to strip Uber of its license has prompted scrutiny of jurisdictions around the world for insight of what happens after Uber. One of the most vibrant examples comes from Austin, Texas, where Uber’s departure last year paved the way for several other ride-share systems to emerge.

In Quebec, Uber’s threat to leave the province was met with derision by some. “I don’t care,” Denis Coderre, the mayor of Montreal, told BNN news channel. “Frankly we need to have some regulation, and if they threaten to leave I don’t care.”

Tags: Uberregulationtraining
Categories: Labor News

Uber threatens to leave Quebec in protest at new rules for drivers

Tue, 09/26/2017 - 16:41

Uber threatens to leave Quebec in protest at new rules for drivers
Uber complains that 35-hour training requirement for drivers is unfair
Montreal mayor dismisses threat: ‘If they threaten to leave, I don’t care’
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/26/uber-threatens-leave-...
Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, Uber Quebec’s general manager, said: ‘What we know for sure is that if they impose 35 hours of training on us, we’ll need to leave.’
Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, Uber Quebec’s general manager, said: ‘What we know for sure is that if they impose 35 hours of training on us, we’ll need to leave.’ Photograph: Ryan Remiorz/AP
Ashifa Kassam in Toronto
@ashifa_k
Tuesday 26 September 2017 14.15 EDTLast modified on Tuesday 26 September 2017 14.58 EDT
Uber says it will stop operating in the Canadian province of Quebec if authorities push forward with plans to demand additional training of its drivers.

Last week, the Quebec government announced legislation that would require Uber drivers to undergo 35 hours of mandatory training – an amount in line with taxi drivers in the province – rather than the 20 hours currently demanded of them.

The legislation, which would also force Uber drivers to have a criminal background check carried out by police rather than private security companies and have their cars inspected every 12 months, is expected to be tabled next week.

The new rules in Quebec come as the company wages a high-profile battle against the decision to strip it of its license to operate in London.In explaining their decision, Transport for London said that “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility”.

Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, the general manager of Uber Quebec, said the company worried that the training requirements could deter drivers from signing up.

“Can you imagine someone on Airbnb that is renting his apartment once, twice or three times month or three times a year?” Guillemette asked. “That person would not be required to take 35 hours of training. And it’s the same situation for these drivers, working for Uber.”

Unless the province scrapped the proposed legislation, he said the service would stop operating in Quebec as of 14 October. “We’re not here to negotiate in public – we don’t think that’s the right approach,” he said. “The goal here is for us to sit down with the government and find ways that you can continue to operate. But what we know for sure is that if they impose 35 hours of training on us, we’ll need to leave.”

Uber began operating in Quebec last year, as a one-year pilot project that included what Guillemette described as the “most restrictive and severe regulations imposed on us in North America”. Across Canada, the company’s entry into the market has been met with a patchwork of rules and regulations, with a lack of provincial legislation barring it from operating in Vancouver and Winnipeg. But Quebec is the only province that requires Uber drivers to undergo training, said Guillemette.

The service has racked up nearly a million users in Quebec and counts more than 50 full-time employees in the provincial office, said Guillemette. “Every week we have about 5,000 drivers that drive on the platform – it’s the equivalent of 3,000 full-time jobs.”

Uber’s platform – which allows drivers to be assessed after every ride – enables the company to target its driver training, said Guillemette. “What we’ve developed is an ongoing training program, depending on the needs of the driver,” he said. “We fully agree that training is something that is important … but by trying to impose the same thing that is currently done in the old taxi industry, I don’t think it helps us to move forward and serve the population.”

London’s decision to strip Uber of its license has prompted scrutiny of jurisdictions around the world for insight of what happens after Uber. One of the most vibrant examples comes from Austin, Texas, where Uber’s departure last year paved the way for several other ride-share systems to emerge.

In Quebec, Uber’s threat to leave the province was met with derision by some. “I don’t care,” Denis Coderre, the mayor of Montreal, told BNN news channel. “Frankly we need to have some regulation, and if they threaten to leave I don’t care.”

Tags: Uberregulationtraining
Categories: Labor News

Japan Railway Workers Union Doro-Chiba Statement International Solidarity of Workers Can Stop War on Korean Peninsula! Overthrow warmongers Trump and Abe with angry workers uprising all over the world!

Tue, 09/26/2017 - 09:07

Japan Railway Workers Union Doro-Chiba Statement

International Solidarity of Workers Can Stop War on Korean Peninsula!

Overthrow warmongers Trump and Abe with angry workers uprising all over the world!

Workers all over the world!

A fresh war—a nuclear war—is imminent. Subsequent to the war in the Middle East, now a war on Korean Peninsula is about to break out. If a war erupts, the whole East Asia would become embroiled in an awfully devastating and bloody battlefield.

 The US Trump administration and the Japanese Abe administration have taken us to the brink of nuclear war. Since the division of Korean Peninsula into North and South after World War II against the will of Korean people, the US and Japan governments have been consistently hostile to North Korea and increasing military pressure on it even after the Korean War (1950~53). The US-Japan military alliance continues to make threats even by holding “beheading operation” and “nuclear first strike” over the Kim Jong-un regime, which, in its turn, is driving it to the last extremity to arm with nuclear weapons.

 To confront this serious situation, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) of South Korea issued a statement: “A nuclear showdown is not only a catastrophe for all people in both North and South but means an existential cataclysm for humankind that would spread into every corner of the world. We can never allow it to happen.” The KCTU strongly urges to rise up immediately with full force to “thoroughly get rid of the dark clouds of war looming over the Korean Peninsula and release North and South Korea from the long-years’ constraint of division.”

 Being scared by the impact of global economic crisis and Japan’s economic ruin, the Abe administration is trying to find the only way of survival in large expansion of armament and militarization of economy (dependence on war industry), revising the Constitution that would again enable Japan to launch an aggressive war in Asia. That is why Abe overtly denies the past war crimes including the comfort women issue, as if nothing had ever happened.

 Whatever the reason the Japanese government would put up, we should never allow it to embark in a war again on the Korean Peninsula and East Asia. This is the mission for us Japanese working class to be carried out resolutely.

 We declare our unity with the KCTU appeal, and are firmly determined in front of the workers all over the world that Japanese working class will overthrow the Abe administration and Japanese imperialism with our own hands.

The assaults of neoliberalism, which cares money than lives, has forcibly led to a rapid increase of massive unemployment, poverty, casualization and “karoshi” (death from overwork), and resulted in the collapse of whole social system such as education and medical care. Now, the violent practice of these onslaughts has gone far beyond the limit. Workers’ revolts for pursuing radical transformation of society have begun to spread all over the world. In the forefront, the struggle of South Korean working people has overthrown Park Geun-hye government.

 Summit talks between Trump and Abe to be held in Tokyo in November will give go-ahead to aggressive war on the Korean Peninsula. On November 5th, we will hold the annual international workers’ solidarity rally and demonstration in Tokyo together with participants from abroad to crush the Japan-U.S. summit talks for war.

 With the workers of Japan, Korea and the United States at the forefront, let’s stop the war before it starts by the strength of international solidarity and unity of workers of the whole world!

September 27th, 2017

Yasuhiro TANAKA, President of National Railway Motive Power Union of Chiba (Doro-Chiba)

Hiroyuki YAMAMOTO, General Secretary of Doro-Chiba International Labor Solidarity Committee

http://doro-chiba.org/english/english.htm

Tags: Doro-ChibaKCTUimperialismWar
Categories: Labor News

UK Transport chaos looms as rail unions RMT and Aslef widen strikes over driver-only trains

Sat, 09/23/2017 - 16:39

UK Transport chaos looms as rail unions RMT and Aslef widen strikes over driver-only trains
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/sep/23/rail-strikes-commuters-...

Carefully planned walkouts will cause commuter misery next month, as the government and train operators try to save money
The RMT is set to stage strikes on four rail franchises next month.
The RMT is set to stage strikes on four rail franchises next month. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA
Rajeev Syal
Saturday 23 September 2017 11.00 EDT
Pity British commuters this autumn. In southern England, Merseyside, East Anglia and the east coast main line they will face a wave of disruption after strikes were announced for Tuesday 3 October and Thursday 5 October. London Underground will also face disruption on the later date.

Privately, the rail workers’ union, the RMT, and drivers’ union Aslef believe they can win improved pay and conditions for their members and ensure the safety of the travelling public as rail firms attempt to introduce trains without guards.

This could all be in place by now, they argue, if the government – and in particular, transport secretary Chris Grayling – had given rail firms a free hand to negotiate. But according to the RMT, the rail workers’ union, the “dead hand” of Grayling has halted progress.

RMT and Aslef are used to fighting disputes in the public eye and the walkouts have been meticulously planned for maximum political effect. They will coincide with the Conservative party’s annual conference in Manchester and follow proposed action by public sector unions including the PCS and the POA over the government’s refusal to lift the pay cap.

These disputes also underline how difficult it is to modernise industries when technological progress appears to pose a direct threat to jobs. Industrial action is planned at Southern Rail, Merseyrail, Arriva Rail North and Greater Anglia in a row over the introduction of driver-only operated trains. The abolition of conductors is deemed unacceptable by rail unions, who are well aware that driverless trains could be the next development.

An RMT spokesman said that after Southern Rail, Merseyrail, Arriva Rail North and Greater Anglia failed to engage properly in talks, he suspected the involvement of the transport secretary: “We believe that the dead hand of Chris Grayling has been at work. This is not normal in terms of industrial relations. Our belief is that it is politically driven by the DfT.”

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Economically driven might be more apt. The government is tired of pumping billions into Network Rail, the owner of Britain’s tracks and stations, and wants costs to be held down across the industry. It doesn’t take long for that sort of agenda to clash directly with unions.

The RMT official added that Abellio, the Dutch government-owned company which has the Anglia franchise, last year reached an agreement with the RMT in Scotland in a similar dispute, but is not sitting down with the union now.

“How come Abellio was able to strike a deal over Scotrail, but can’t do it on Anglia? If it was great deal there, why not here? Is it because the government wants train operators to take a stand?”

Nonetheless, there are signs that the most divisive dispute – on Southern, Britain’s busiest commuter franchise – is not intractable. The negotiations with Southern, involving both rail unions, took a new turn last Thursday when Aslef claimed it was close to a deal. Details of the talks were withheld, but a joint statement said “significant progress” had been made in discussions between the union and Govia Thameslink.

But this will probably come at a cost to intra-union relations. Tensions between Aslef and the RMT have increased over the past year. RMT officials are furious that Aslef negotiators have sought a preferential deal for their members behind the backs of fellow trade unionists. Aslef members have already rejected two offers recommended by the union — both of which offered concessions in exchange for drivers taking responsibility for closing train doors.

This leaves RMT in the familiar position of being public enemy number one for the franchise owners. They claim that RMT is on a “national crusade” to gain more money and power for its members. Operators argue that driver-only operation (DOO) was introduced on the Bedford-St Pancras line in 1982 and has spread to about 30% of the UK mainline network, as well as London Underground, and results in a more efficient system.

The RMT insists that operating with a guard is superior to DOO on safety grounds. In a dossier prepared last June, the union asked: “With the [DOO] model being nothing new, it is right to ask why, if it is so safe, has it been adopted by less than a third of the network? The answer is that it is unsafe, and unpopular with the public.”

A spokesman for Southern said: “We are disappointed by this unnecessary action and the RMT’s continued refusal to engage with us in modernising the railway. Last strike, we ran a normal service on most routes but passengers will inevitably be affected in places and we deeply regret any inconvenience these strikes will cause.”

The heyday for UK rail industry investment, which came after the Labour government created Network Rail from the ashes of Railtrack, is a distant era. As franchise owners and the government look for ways to save money, British commuters should be braced for more strikes.

The headline of this story was amended on 23 September to “driver-only trains”.

Tags: RMTStrike London UndergroundWalkout
Categories: Labor News

KAL pilots strike feared to disrupt Chuseok travel

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 21:58

KAL pilots strike feared to disrupt Chuseok travel Posted
: 2017-09-22 16:39Updated : 2017-09-22 17:55

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/tech/2017/09/693_236872.html

By Kang Seung-woo

Travelers fear that a planned strike by Korean Air pilots during the 10-day Chuseok holiday will cause a great deal of inconvenience for travelers flying with Korea's largest flagship carrier.

The carrier said Friday the planned strike will likely begin on Oct. 1 for a seven-day run and 390 pilots out of the 2,300 pilots of the nation's largest air carrier are expected to join the strike. This would inevitably disrupt some flights during the holiday from Sept. 30 to Oct. 9.

The airline must maintain 80 percent of its international flights and 50 percent of its domestic flights along with 70 percent of its flights to Jeju Island.

Korean Air is designated as a public essential service in accordance with the 2010 revision to the aviation law, so up to 20 percent of the union pilots could take part in the strike.

Since October 2015, the pilots' union and the company have engaged in negotiations over wage hikes, but to no avail.

The union demands a retroactive 4-percent pay increase for 2015 and 7-percent hike for 2016 plus performance-related pay, while management has offered a 1.9-percent increase over 2015 and 3.2 percent for 2016 along with new incentives.

Korean Air pilots earn an average of 150 million won ($132,000) in wages.

"The union has continued making incremental concessions to wrap up the stalled talks, but management shows no signs of change in its position," the union said.

It called for a 37 percent hike in 2015, but reduced its demand to 29 percent last year.

Korean Air says the planned strike is "unjustified."

"The union should have put the strike plan to a vote according to relevant laws, but it failed," the company said in a press statement.

Amid growing transport disruptions, Korean Air vowed to prevent any inconvenience from the envisaged strike, fully using available pilots, including foreigners. The company also said it will not close the window for negotiations with union members.

The strike, if held as planned, would be the second of its kind following the previous walkout staged last December in protest against the drawn-out negotiation with management over retroactive wages for 2015. However, some 150 pilots joined it.

In March, the pilots' union planned to go on a week-long strike after their negotiations for a wage hike fell through, but it was called off after the airline's president, Walter Cho, met with the union, creating a conciliatory mood.

If the strike goes ahead, it will be another major blow to the airline that is already struggling with China's travel ban on all group tours to Korea in response to Korea's decision to deploy a U.S. -led missile system.

Due to the ban, Korean Air plans to reduce the number of flights to China later this year.

Tags: KAL pilots strikeKorea Airline Pilots
Categories: Labor News

A Century of Working Class Activism: A Review of Wharfie

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 12:00

A Century of Working Class Activism: A Review of Wharfie

by Wal Stubbings and Lesley Synge, published by Zing Stories, 2017

Queen’s Land Branch News No. 104 – Friday 22 September 2017

Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Queensland Branch Secretary 73 Southgate Avenue, Cannon Hill QLD 4170

IN THE LAST ten years of his life, retired Brisbane wharfie Wal Stubbings started recording the stories of his own life. When Wal died in 2014, aged 101, his memoirs remained unpublished, scattered throughout scores of documents typed and saved as computer files by family and friends. Wal’s son Col understood the importance of this legacy. He

phoned Brisbane writer Lesley Synge to ask her to piece together the stories into a coherent whole. Fortunately, she said yes. Drawing on Wal’s written stories, his letters, recordings of interviews with him and other sources, Synge has compiled Wharfie, a book destined to become a classic of Australian working class memoir.

Synge has done a remarkable job of sewing the patches together. Occasionally she has added small sections in her own words, designed to clarify or explain certain points in the narrative. But her interventions are modest and complementary. With a deft editing hand Synge has allowed Wal to tell his own story. This is not a biography of Wal but a memoir in the first person, presented in Wal’s own words with his own matter-of-fact conversational style, wry humour and honesty. The book follows a chronological arrangement, recounting Wal’s early years in the isolated timber-getting and mining communities of Tasmania’s west coast, then moving through his four decades on the Brisbane waterfront and as an activist in the Communist Party of Australia (CPA), and ending with his political, sporting and family activities during his long retirement. Each section is illustrated with photographs.

There are many reasons to read and enjoy Wharfie. Here are just three.

The book is rich in information about the way things were and how they changed, especially for working people. Capitalist societies like Australia’s have evolved so rapidly and profoundly in 150 years that many aspects of human existence prior to the 1970s seem utterly strange to us. Reading the life story of a man who lived for more than a century is like reading science fiction in reverse. For most of his life Wal functioned in a world without personal computers, mobile phones, the internet, credit and debit cards, ATMs or mass air travel. He was in his 40s when television arrived in Australian homes, in his 60s when it changed to colour. When Wal and his wife Ada became active in community politics in the Brisbane suburb of Moorooka, their home became the venue for meetings because they were among the few locals who could afford a telephone.

On the waterfront men loaded and unloaded cargo by hand. Wal’s first wharf job entailed shovelling and carrying coal in baskets from ship’s holds to train wagons. Thousands of tonnes were moved this way. In Brisbane, humping bags of cargo was normal until containerisation in the 1960s. Wal’s experiences remind us that technology, however sophisticated, is always an extension of human brains and muscles. However distant we become from the pick, the shovel and the grappling hook, labour and the natural world are and always will be the source of all social wealth.

Wal’s life story confirms that humanity advances through collective knowledge and effort. While capitalist ideology encourages us to revere the outstanding individual, the self-motivated high achiever, in reality social progress derives from cooperation. Most of what we learn we learn from others, and what we achieve, we achieve together. Shovelling coal, the young Wal learnt from an old wharfie the best way to go about it. Thanks to him, Wal survived the long shifts with body intact. In the timber industry similar communal wisdom, passed down from experienced timbermen, kept Wal from being crushed to death by falling trees. Confronted by the structures of economic and political power, Wal could easily have been crushed in a different way. Instead, he turned to the collective strength of community organising, trade unionism and the Communist Party, and discovered in them both the power of solidarity and a way of leading a meaningful life. He realised his own advancement was bound up with the advancement of others. Not for him the dog-eat-dog selfishness of neoliberalism.

Wal’s approach to life and politics provides a second reason to read Wharfie. He emerges from its pages as a worker-intellectual with the courage to question his own actions and beliefs. At least up to a point. A staunch socialist, he travelled to the Soviet Union in 1963, only to return with doubts about the nature of the Soviet regime. He aired those doubts publicly. But he didn’t leave the Communist fold. Despite Wal’s unease about Stalinism he remained a member of the CPA and loyal to the communist leadership of the Waterside Workers Federation (WWF). His loyalty skews his judgement at times. Was it really the case, for example, that in the 1960s the WWF ‘tried to create a culture where you could express yourself – right-wing, left-wing or whatever’? (p.138) Perhaps. But probably not. All the same, Wal was no Communist dupe. In 1968 he lost close friends over his criticism of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Later, he came to the view that ‘socialism under Stalin was not what Marx and Engels envisaged.’ (p.161) Always close to the rank and file, Wal adjudged the Soviet Union a failure because central authority had taken control, crushing workers’ democracy.

Wal never stopped questioning and learning. From the Aboriginal activist and wharfie Joe McGinness he learned that communication is more effective if you start with the little things, finding the common ground first. From a proud young man with paraplegia he learned not to assume your personal help is always needed or welcomed. From Ada’s dementia late in her life he discovered he was not the self-sufficient carer he assumed he was. From returning to his childhood home in Tasmania and contemplating the environmental devastation wreaked by copper mining, Wal concluded that the ‘slash and burn’ approach to development dominant in his lifetime had to be rejected. Wal’s ability to reflect honestly on his own habits of thought and behaviour and not to accept ‘common sense’ views on face value, is a lesson for us all.

The third reason to read this book is that it serves as a ledger of the debt we owe earlier generations of worker activists. As a Vigilance Officer for the WWF Wal was at the forefront of making the waterfront a safer place. In one incident the role almost cost him his life. This did not deter him. Through his persistence and the persistence of others like him, safety was established as a workplace priority. As a result, fewer workers were (and are) injured or killed on the job. As Wal well knew, however, this situation can never be taken for granted.

The debt we owe does not stop at the workplace. Many readers of Wharfie will already know about the WWF’s role in supporting the Indonesian struggle for independence. They will probably also know about the union’s support for Aboriginal rights and its prominence in the Queensland Right to March campaign in 1978-79. But how many will know that in 1956 a contingent of Brisbane wharfies travelled to Inglewood on the Darling Downs to help residents recover from a flood? How many know that Spinal Life Australia and the Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association originated in fundraising activities by the WWF and its Women’s Committee? How many are aware that the Communist Party organised what was probably Queensland’s first rent strike to prevent a hike in government rents in Moorooka?

Wal or Wal and Ada together were involved in all of these battles. Wal also supported the Timorese against the Indonesian takeover in 1975. Thirty years later, in his 90s, he led a successful campaign to halt Coalition plans to extend the GST to personal and medical services for residents of retirement villages. This while coping with the trauma of Ada’s decline. So many campaigns fought, so many conditions and freedoms won and defended. So many people who benefitted. All his adult life Wal Stubbings believed organized labour to be the hope of the world. The history recounted in this tremendous book shows why he was right. For this reason alone it is a must-read for workers everywhere.

Jeff Rickertt

Tags: MUAdockersAustrialian labour
Categories: Labor News

DC Metro worker shocked while working on new train, prompting safety concerns-ATU 689 demanded an emergecy “safety stand-down,"

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 22:28

DC Metro worker shocked while working on new train, prompting safety concerns-ATU 689 demanded an emergecy “safety stand-down,"

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/metro-worker-sh...

The stand-down meant fewer trains were available Thursday morning, causing significant crowding. . (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)
By Martine Powers September 21 at 7:30 PM
Metro riders endured another horrendous commute Thursday morning after the agency’s union demanded an emergency “safety stand-down,” refusing to conduct mandatory inspections on new 7000-series trains after a mechanic was shocked while working on one of the rail cars.

Because rail cars must be inspected regularly before they go into service, the stand-down meant there were fewer trains available Thursday, causing significant crowding and delays. Riders’ frustrations were compounded because Metro did not alert customers to the problem until the end of the morning rush.

Hours later, Metro officials declared the electric problem on the cars had been investigated and they were deemed safe; service returned to normal for the afternoon commute.

Metro said a review, conducted by the agency’s engineers and engineers from the rail car manufacturer, Kawasaki, determined inspection procedures in place for mechanics working on the trains are “appropriate and consistent with manufacturer guidelines.”

The agency said it would conduct additional safety briefings with mechanics to ensure they weren’t at risk.

“Part of creating a safety culture means taking immediate action to address concerns raised by employees. If a concern cannot be immediately resolved or requires further investigation, sometimes additional steps — such as a safety stand-down — must be taken in an abundance of caution,” Metro Chief Safety Officer Patrick Lavin said in a statement. “We encourage the reporting of safety concerns, and thank our customers for their understanding as we place safety first.”

But union leaders said the agency has not done enough to protect workers, many of whom fear they are at risk while performing routine maintenance on Metro’s newest fleet of cars.

Problems began late Wednesday when Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 demanded the stand-down after learning of an incident Saturday, in which a mechanic was shocked at a West Falls Church rail yard while he worked on a 7000-series car.

According to an incident report obtained by The Washington Post, the mechanic indicated the shock was “light” and left no visual burns, and he was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital for evaluation.

After Saturday’s incident, all maintenance work ceased on the 7000-series train while the situation was assessed.

According to the incident report, “it appears that car R7022 lost all grounding capabilities,” indicating the car had electrical current running through it.

The problem was traced to the “ground brushes,” which are circuits attached to the rail car axles and help return electric current from the train back to the rail. The components are located underneath the train cars and inaccessible to passengers.

The union alleged Metro knew of the shock risk from the cars and did nothing about it.

“Metro knew of these electrical shocks since at least January, but covered it up and only decided to take action today because there was a victim involved who could have been killed,” the union said in a statement Wednesday night. “These actions are an abject failure to implement an effective safety culture when it should be Metro’s number one priority.”

[Metro and union bicker over who was responsible for Monday’s Orange Line mess]

Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said agency officials have no knowledge of previous shock incidents related to the same components on the 7000-series cars.

They also have notified the Federal Transit Administration, which has safety oversight of the rail system. Neither the FTA, nor Kawasaki responded to requests for comment Thursday.

The electricity issue — flagged as a “hazardous condition” in an internal memo — did not pose a threat to passengers, Stessel said, because there are secondary safety systems in place on the trains that ensure stray electric current does not reach other parts of the train.

The stand-down was the latest dispute between union leadership and Metro management as the relationship between the two sides continues to erode. The two are entering arbitration after failing to reach a contract and are at odds on a variety of issues including pay and benefits, assaults on bus operators by customers and the use of contractors.In a statement Wednesday afternoon, the union said the shock incident “could have ended in death or serious injury” and was one of several significant safety mishaps that have occurred to rail maintenance workers this year while servicing 7000-series trains, though it did not provide details on the nature of any of the other incidents.

On Monday, Metro sent a bulletin to mechanics about the problem. Another went out to train operators, warning them the problem “could pose a potential safety hazard,” and if the screen in the cab of the train indicated there was a lack of third rail voltage, they should immediately contact the Rail Operations Control Center and take the train out of service once they reached the end of the line.

Union officials said the response wasn’t adequate and Wednesday evening delivered a demand for a “safety stand-down” — an immediate action in which all work stops until a problem is investigated and deemed safe.

Though Metro agreed to the stand-down shortly before midnight Wednesday, it was not until 8:50 a.m. Thursday that Metro sent an email alert to riders, informing them to expect fewer trains, longer average waits between trains, and more crowded trains — due in part because many more trains than usual were composed of six cars, rather than eight.

Stessel said officials didn’t expect the cutback in rail cars to have as significant an impact on riders as it did.

“From a rail operations perspective, early morning service was relatively normal,” Stessel said. “When it became clear that there could be a customer effect, we issued a release.”Stessel said Metro has a longer-term fix on the way: Kawasaki is building new components for the cars, which will be installed on all the cars that are yet to be manufactured and delivered to Metro.

For the more than 350 7000-series rail cars that have already arrived, they will be retrofitted with a new design for the ground brushes.

[Contract talks collapse between Metro and its biggest union, triggering arbitration]

Faiz Siddiqui contributed to this report.

Martine Powers writes about the Metro transit system and the wonky world of transportation. Follow @martinepowers

Tags: ATU 698DC Metrohealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

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