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Subway workers of Sao Paulo are on strike and injuction against auction may cancel privatization of the sector

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 08:30

Subway workers of Sao Paulo are on strike and injuction against auction may cancel privatization of the sector
http://laboursolidarity.org/Subway-workers-of-Sao-Paulo-are-on?lang=pt&v...
18 de Janeiro de 2018

CSP-Conlutas
Página inicial do sítio > Union > Subway workers of Sao Paulo are on strike and (...)
Subway workers of São Paulo are on strike against the privatization. More than 90% workers joined in a strong action against the attacks of public transportation in São Paulo, carried out by Alckmin government.

The Subway Workers Union denounces the losses to the people with privatization and serious irregularities in the whole process, directed to benefit a operating company that has been specialized in recent years to privatize the transportation sector.

In a joint action between workers on the subway strike, Fenametro (National Federation of subway and railway workers) and the PSOL (Socialism and Freedom Party) rank in the City Hall, an injunction was upheld by the courts and the privatization auction, which would happen tomorrow (19), was overturned.

"The Subway workers resists against privatization and denounces the corruption of PSDB [Party of Brazilian Social Democracy] and Alckmin government in the state. CSP-Conlutas militants fulfilled their role in this fight that guaranteed the withdrawal of the auction that was scheduled for the day 19/01. This proves that the struggle of the workers is decisive for the victory of the class", says Alex Fernandes, general coordinator of the São Paulo Metro Workers’ Union.

International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggles expresses solidarity with the strike and sends a motion of support to the comrades mobilized against the privatization and precarious transport.

Tags: Sao Paulosubway workers strike
Categories: Labor News

New KCTU Leadership Calls For Freedom Of Jailed Korean Trade Unionists By Moon Government

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 08:57

New KCTU Leadership Calls For Freedom Of Jailed Korean Trade Unionists By Moon Government
https://www.facebook.com/kctueng/posts/846176252218867
Korean Confederation of Trade Unions added 4 new photos.
January 1 at 10:03pm ·
KCTU held a kick-off to the year 2018 with the newly elected leadership in front of the statue of the labour martyr Chun, Tae-il in the Maseok Memorial Park. In his inauguration speech Kim, Myung-hwan, the new president declared that “KCTU is about to set out a long march to accomplish a revolution in the world of work.”
The new leaders are;
President: Mr. Kim, Myung-hwan(former KRWU president)
First Vice-president: Ms. Kim, Kyoung-ja(former KCTU vice president)
General Secretary: Mr. Baek, Seok-geun (former KFCITU president)
The new leadership will add fresh fuel to the campaign for the release of Han, Sang-gyun and Lee, Young-joo, the imprisoned former leaders.
The court just decided to detain KCTU GS Lee, Young-Joo for the same charge with president Han, Sang-Gyun.
https://www.facebook.com/kctueng/?hc_ref=ARQ_w7AwH4SlDdLAkLAx73WvAToO3tG...
Korean Confederation of Trade Unions added 3 new photos.
December 30, 2017 at 7:36am ·
The court just decided to detain KCTU GS Lee, Young-Joo for the same charge with president Han, Sang-Gyun. #arbitrary_detention
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<26195552_844757802360712_8362348272448614863_n.jpg>

Tags: KCTUMoon governmentKorean trade unionistsrepression
Categories: Labor News

Criminally Corrupt FedEx denies whistleblower allegations and racism stemming from LAX operations

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 08:54

Criminally Corrupt FedEx denies whistleblower allegations and racism stemming from LAX operations

http://www.dailybreeze.com/general-news/20150803/fedex-denies-whistleblo...

By CITY NEWS SERVICE |
PUBLISHED: August 3, 2015 at 11:22 pm | UPDATED: September 6, 2017 at 5:45 am
A lawsuit by an aircraft technician and his boss, who allege FedEx Corp. management ignored their complaints that the company put profits ahead ahead of safety, is groundless, a spokeswoman for the delivery service said Monday.

“These allegations have no merit and we will vigorously defend the lawsuit,” FedEx spokeswoman Connie Avery said.

Stanley Langevin and Mark Collins filed the whistleblower complaint Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeking unspecified damages. Collins, who is black and also is Langevin’s supervisor, additionally alleges racial discrimination.

Both men, who work at FedEx’s Los Angeles International Airport location, allege the company’s aircraft are not maintained according to Federal Aviation Administration safety requirements.

Langevin, who has more than 40 years of experience as an aircraft technician and also is an Air Force veteran, says he was retaliated against when he complained about the condition of many FedEx aircraft.

“Langevin uncovered a calculated, illegal scheme by FedEx whereby FedEx routinely and knowingly returned non-airworthy aircraft to service despite the need for further repair/maintenance in order to comply with federal aviation regulations,” the suit alleges.

He alleges his employer “was more concerned with returning the aircraft to flight quickly and cheaply in order to increase their profits than with ensuring compliance with the federal aviation regulations.”

The suit alleges that supervisors routinely wrote Langevin negative memos, suspended him for “fabricated” reasons and coerced co-workers to come up with “dirt” against him so he could be disciplined and demoted.

Collins, a Navy veteran who fought in the Persian Gulf War during Operation Desert Storm, alleges he faced a backlash because he defended Langevin.“Collins fully supported Langevin’s complaints and voiced his own complaints regarding the same illegal practices,” the suit alleges. “Collins further objected to and refused to be a party to FedEx’s pattern of retaliation against the whistleblowers.”

The plaintiffs further allege that Collins and other black employees were paid less than their non-black counterparts.

Tags: FedExracismoshahealth and safetycover-upprofiteering
Categories: Labor News

FedEx denies whistleblower allegations stemming from LAX operations

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 21:09

FedEx denies whistleblower allegations stemming from LAX operations

http://www.dailybreeze.com/general-news/20150803/fedex-denies-whistleblo...

By CITY NEWS SERVICE |
PUBLISHED: August 3, 2015 at 11:22 pm | UPDATED: September 6, 2017 at 5:45 am
A lawsuit by an aircraft technician and his boss, who allege FedEx Corp. management ignored their complaints that the company put profits ahead ahead of safety, is groundless, a spokeswoman for the delivery service said Monday.

“These allegations have no merit and we will vigorously defend the lawsuit,” FedEx spokeswoman Connie Avery said.

Stanley Langevin and Mark Collins filed the whistleblower complaint Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeking unspecified damages. Collins, who is black and also is Langevin’s supervisor, additionally alleges racial discrimination.

Both men, who work at FedEx’s Los Angeles International Airport location, allege the company’s aircraft are not maintained according to Federal Aviation Administration safety requirements.

Langevin, who has more than 40 years of experience as an aircraft technician and also is an Air Force veteran, says he was retaliated against when he complained about the condition of many FedEx aircraft.

“Langevin uncovered a calculated, illegal scheme by FedEx whereby FedEx routinely and knowingly returned non-airworthy aircraft to service despite the need for further repair/maintenance in order to comply with federal aviation regulations,” the suit alleges.

He alleges his employer “was more concerned with returning the aircraft to flight quickly and cheaply in order to increase their profits than with ensuring compliance with the federal aviation regulations.”

The suit alleges that supervisors routinely wrote Langevin negative memos, suspended him for “fabricated” reasons and coerced co-workers to come up with “dirt” against him so he could be disciplined and demoted.

Collins, a Navy veteran who fought in the Persian Gulf War during Operation Desert Storm, alleges he faced a backlash because he defended Langevin.“Collins fully supported Langevin’s complaints and voiced his own complaints regarding the same illegal practices,” the suit alleges. “Collins further objected to and refused to be a party to FedEx’s pattern of retaliation against the whistleblowers.”

The plaintiffs further allege that Collins and other black employees were paid less than their non-black counterparts.

Tags: FedEx whistleblowerhealth and safetyosha
Categories: Labor News

The Dirty Truth Behind New York’s Transit Crisis How the riding public and transit workers are made to suffer so Wall Street bankers and real estate barons can bleed mass transit for profit

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 20:56

The Dirty Truth
Behind New York’s Transit Crisis
How the riding public and transit workers are made to suffer so Wall Street bankers and real estate barons
can bleed mass transit for profit

http://www.lrp-cofi.org/RTW/transit_crisis.html

The subway serves Wall Street in more ways than one.

Underfunded and deep in debt, New York City’s subway system is falling apart. Derailments, fires, electrical failures and equipment malfunctions have become everyday events, multiplying the perennial problems of overcrowding, delays and cancellations. On-time performance has dropped precipitously, from 84% in 2012 to 63% in April 2017; monthly delays are up to 70,000 from 28,000 in 2012.[1] The purpose of the subway system ought to be to get workers to work rapidly and enable people to get around the city cheaply. But its six million daily riders cannot be confident of getting to work on schedule or to get anywhere reliably.

While the entire riding public suffers from the long-lasting and deepening crisis, the worst effects fall disproportionately on the working class and especially poor people of color. Their subway stations are the least maintained, and many workers in the “outer boroughs” have to take slow-moving buses to even get to the subways. Frequent fare hikes hit hardest those who can least afford them, forcing more and more people to jump the turnstiles and risk arrest. And under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Broken Windows” policy, which directs police to crack down on minor violations in poor neighborhoods, the cops seize tens of thousands of mostly young people of color every year for fare evasion.[2]

The effects of the transit crisis on the riding public are obvious and intolerable, but the system’s workforce is also under severe stress. Management has been increasing pressure on workers to maximize effort, while allowing decades of understaffing as well as often dirty and unsafe working conditions. The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) has only recently started necessary large-scale hiring, with plans to bring on 2700 new Maintenance of Way and Car Equipment workers. But there is no plan to alleviate the burden on train operators and conductors, bus drivers, station agents and cleaners, whose numbers are far too low for the system to operate in anything close to a humane way. And all transit workers face forced overtime as well as demands to sacrifice working conditions, wages and benefits.

The spike in subway delays, derailments, and fires gave rise to the tabloid label “Summer of Hell” in 2017, the culmination of a long-term failure to modernize the system. Governor Andrew Cuomo responded by declaring the subways to be in a “state of emergency.” At the same time, Cuomo and de Blasio both denied responsibility, each claiming that the other was in charge. The truth is that the MTA is a nominally independent agency of New York State, set up to insulate politicians from being held accountable by voters for the system’s failures. In its present form, however, the governor and his upstate allies control a majority of the votes on the MTA board (the mayor controls a few). So the buck ultimately stops with Cuomo.[3]

And Cuomo is no friend of the subways. When public outrage at delays and overcrowding spiked last summer, Cuomo grandstanded that “New York is going to put its money where its mouth is” and trumpeted a $1 billion cash infusion for the MTA. But that pledge was a flat-out lie, since he was really cutting funding for subways by more than a billion dollars! He had already cut $65 million from the MTA’s budget by reducing the state’s annual reimbursement for the $320 million in annual funding it had lost in 2011 when Cuomo granted new tax exemptions to a range of business enterprises. And after his pledge, Cuomo had the MTA cut $1.2 billion from its subways budget, funds that had been earmarked for improving the signaling and communications systems.

That money was redirected toward favored projects that serve his capitalist backers – like the ill-conceived AirTrain to LaGuardia Airport that would head away from the central business district and be no faster than the current bus-to-subway connection, in order to benefit corporate developments around Willetts Point in Queens. Cuomo also took a profusion of self-promoting bows when the Second Avenue line opened in January 2017. This line runs only to Manhattan’s higher-income Upper East Side, with fancy stations built to make ample profits for developers. It does not go to the Lower East Side, East Harlem and the central Bronx, working-class neighborhoods served by the elevated lines that the new line was originally designed to replace. Indeed, since the 1950s there have been no new lines and few extensions in the outer boroughs where 80 percent of the city’s population, including most workers, live.

Further, in 2016 Cuomo had declared that the state would fulfill its budgetary commitments to the MTA’s capital plan only once all other possible sources of funding had been exhausted. Then he got the state to dramatically raise the MTA’s debt-ceiling by $55 billion, to an astronomical total of $123 billion, so that it could issue more bonds to Wall Street profiteers. Of course, demanding other possible sources of funding sets the stage for more service cuts, attacks on transit workers’ wages and working conditions as well as more fare hikes every couple of years.[4]

It’s not just Cuomo. The Flushing line extension, built under the city’s previous mayor, billionaire Republican Michael Bloomberg, was designed to service property development near the Hudson River waterfront. De Blasio likewise has joined the real estate party and is pushing projects which will encourage new luxury housing and shops, including a streetcar line, the Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX), along the East River waterfront. This project will encourage new luxury housing and shops; it threatens the homes of hundreds of thousands of mostly Black, Latino and Asian working class people, who are protesting the gentrification project vociferously. There is a crying need for Brooklyn-Queens crosstown lines, but workers are right to oppose the BQX that is planned at their expense.

Cuomo, de Blasio and a succession of prior governors and mayors have presided over the underfunding and decay of the transit system in order to satisfy the profit demands of the capitalists they serve. Real estate tycoons have demanded that funding for the system’s maintenance and development be deprioritized in favor of projects and lines that will enhance the profitability of their investments. And Wall Street bankers insist that the system be increasingly financed by bond issues that guarantee them regular returns, rather than through progressive taxes that they would have to pay. Debt and interest payments to Wall Street now account for almost 20% of the MTA’s budget. Thus, despite capitalism’s financial crises and long-term stagnation (see below), New York’s public transit system has become a source of steady profits for capitalist parasites.

The “Summer of Hell”

One immediate reason for the transit crisis is the long-term failure to upgrade the system, combined with the increasing demands placed on it by a growing ridership. The city’s population has grown by about 15 percent since 1980, and ridership is up 7 percent over the past five years. But for decades upkeep was put off for lack of funds.

Some of the incidents this past summer were life-threatening to hundreds of people. In April, a train carrying about 1000 passengers derailed in Queens, injuring 19, sending 4 to the hospital, filling a car with smoke and requiring passengers to evacuate through the tunnel. On June 5, another train bound from Manhattan to Brooklyn stalled in the East River tunnel; the power failed and air conditioning shut down, bringing temperatures up to 120 degrees and filling some cars with smoke; passengers had to wrench doors open in order to breathe. On June 27 a train derailed in Harlem, filling train cars and the tunnel with sickening smoke; evacuating the 800 passengers from the tunnel took over an hour. On July 17, a track fire caused the evacuation of another Harlem station, halting service on several lines and sending passengers to a nearby line, creating dangerous overcrowding. On July 19, a power failure at Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn left a crowded subway platform in the dark during evening rush hour.

Crowd surge at the 168th Street station on the 1 line
after service was halted on the A line

On September 15, the New York Times described how major failures paralyzing sections of the transit system were becoming a daily occurrence:.

“In Manhattan, it was debris on the track. In Queens, it was a switch problem. In Brooklyn, it was a power malfunction. Taken together, the various woes snarled at least eight lines on New York City’s dilapidated subway on Thursday, upending the travels of furious riders who were forced to wait on packed platforms for trains that never came or were too full to squeeze inside.”[5]

There is more to come. Under the East River, the L train tube between Manhattan and Brooklyn was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and needs massive repairs. It will be shut down for 15 months, leaving hundreds of thousands of riders without viable alternatives.

The decay of the New York subway is a microcosm of the country’s infrastructure crisis. And mass transit is not the only urban system in serious trouble. Decent and affordable housing is also a desperate need that capitalism is proving unable to provide even in the richest country in the world. In New York City, the exponentially rising cost of housing has forced many workers out of the most convenient neighborhoods.

That this crisis is peaking in the capital of world finance, where the pampered and parasitic super-wealthy from all over the world come to play and profit, illuminates the decay of the capitalist system. In New York, the dominant financial capitalists are torn between their need for a functioning transit system that gets people to work and their use of the MTA as a generator of profits squeezed out of the public by way of billions of dollars of debt payments.

Capitalist Stagnation and Debt

The New York subways first came into service in the first decades of the 20th century, instantly becoming wonders of the world. U.S. capitalism oversaw the building of these and other monumental public works, largely by immigrant laborers with picks and shovels. Today, one modern earth-moving machine does the work of hundreds of laborers with hand tools. Yet the capitalist class can no longer adequately maintain the current infrastructure let alone build new facilities, even in the face of desperate need.

Mass transit was never really profitable, even though it is essential for urban businesses – how else are millions of workers to get to their jobs to generate profits for the bosses? During the Depression of the 1930s, the privately-owned subway lines went bankrupt and laid thousands off. But with substantial municipal support, service was expanded and the city built new publicly-owned lines.

American capitalism boomed during and after World War II. But since that boom ended, the capitalists and their politicians have allowed the subways and other public works to fall apart rather than pay for the necessary upkeep. When the economic crisis hit in the 1970s, they squeezed the working class: in New York, subway fares were increased by over 65 percent between 1970 and 1975, tuition was imposed at the City University for the first time, public hospitals were closed and tens of thousands of public employees were laid off.

Behind this crisis was the declining rate of profit of the world capitalist economy, along the lines of the theory presented by Karl Marx 150 years ago. In recent decades, the capitalists have propped profits up by various means: but despite their success in cutting wages while stepping up productivity, despite computers and the internet driving costs down, despite the opening up of China and other low-wage countries to unfettered super-exploitation, global profit rates remain well below their post-World War II levels. Slashing funds for public works, and gouging the working class to pay for what spending there is, are the consequences of what has been a one-sided class war.[6]

After the city’s acute fiscal crisis in 1975, federal, state and city funds almost stopped flowing to the subways or any public infrastructure. The state legislature appointed a Financial Control Board of unelected bankers with veto power over the entire city budget and control of certain tax revenues. And as part of the same austerity attack, the state legislature held back billions from transit.

In the 1970s and early 1980s the system was starved of funding. Transit hiring essentially stopped, and workforce numbers plummeted. Management stopped buying new rails, so when in-service rails became thoroughly side-worn, they weren’t replaced; they were just transposed with the rails across the track so trains would wear down the other side evenly. The most notorious manifestation of subway disintegration was in the rolling stock. Subway cars broke down on average every 6800 miles, as compared to 170,000 miles today. The hiring freeze left few cleaners, so cars were filthy and poorly maintained.

The capitalists didn’t want to pay, but the functioning of business in the whole region, including Wall Street, was threatened by the system’s dysfunction. Transit workers became sick of their wage freeze and struck the system in 1980. They were forced back to work without a contract, but a strike scared the capitalists and politicians, and an arbitrator awarded substantial wage and benefit gains. To pay for this and for urgent capital construction, in 1981 the MTA issued bonds for needed funding.

Borrowing heavily, the MTA started on a big hiring and purchasing program. But the money borrowed had to be paid back – with interest. Debt service payments now account for about 19% of the MTA’s budget; total debt figures amount to around $40 billion, up from $12 billion in the year 2000. Hence the steady fare hikes. Since the late 1940s, the single-ride fare has risen from 5 cents to $2.75, 55 times higher and five times the overall rate of inflation.[7]

The Plight of Transit Workers

The fact that the transit system’s financial crisis is based on its underfunding and indebtedness to Wall Street bond holders hasn’t stopped capitalist mouthpieces like the notoriously racist and anti-worker New York Post from blaming transit workers for the crisis. In recent coverage of the transit crisis, it declared: “The biggest culprit in skyrocketing costs is employee benefits.”[8] This is, of course, a lie. In reality, debt service payouts by the MTA amount to about twice as much as the health and welfare benefits[9] – and benefits go to the workers who make the system run, not to the parasites whose “earnings” keep the system struggling to survive.

The capitalist media, especially Fox News and the Post, naturally blame the system’s decay on transit workers and their allegedly princely wages and benefits. They try to convince the working-class majority of passengers that their fellow workers, the members of Transport Workers Union Local 100, are responsible for the system’s rising fares and worsening service. But it is not only the openly anti-labor media that blames the workers. The city’s liberal “paper of record,” the New York Times, ran an otherwise informative article on its front page in November 2017 which claimed that the MTA “has given concession after concession to its main labor union;” that the TWU, that transit wages are rising faster than those of other municipal workers; and that “subway workers now make an average of $170,000 annually in salary, overtime and benefits.”[10] In reality, the union officials have made multiple concessions to management; TWU workers’ wages, like others’, are rising slower than the rate of inflation; and the top pay for the skilled, stressful and injury-prone work of train operators is under $75,000 a year.[11] Even though other municipal workers make less, this is not extravagant pay in one of the most expensive cities in the country; the aim should be to raise others’ wages, not lower these.

The major infrastructure breakdowns like derailments are well publicized. Less well known is the system’s dependence on massive overtime labor, achieved by management coercing workers into completing long shifts as well as skipping lunches and breaks. And when tracks and signals need to be replaced, the bosses shut whole stretches of a line for a day or a weekend and drive trackworkers and signal maintainers to work 12- or even 16-hour days. Many train operators and conductors are losing sleep and family time to keep the system rolling – and that isn’t good for passengers, either.

Some specifics:

The new contract signed by the leaders of Local 100 sets new limits on the number of overtime hours that workers can bank and use for days off – on top of the difficulty workers have to get a day off approved by management.
Workers are discouraged from taking time off for medical reasons by contemptuous company doctors and a system of gotcha-style visits to catch workers who are not at home when sick.
Even pregnant women workers are harassed into skipping bathroom breaks.
Because of insufficient staffing, new hires especially are condemned to years of work on the night shift without relief. Night shifts are well known to have ruinous effects on health, not to mention their impact on family and social time.
These examples of inhuman conditions forced on transit workers have serious consequences on their physical and emotional well-being.

The trade union movement was built over decades by workers protesting horrendous working conditions as well as low wages. But that fighting spirit has been doused by union leaders who see their role as brokering deals with the bosses instead of leading the working class in struggle. TWU Local 100 in particular has a rich tradition of militancy, and with a membership that now consists largely of people of color, it has the potential to play a leading role in mobilizing working-class and oppressed people in struggles. But its members too have suffered the demoralizing effects of betrayals by their leaders.

In 2005, under union president Roger Toussaint, Local 100 fought a three-day strike against the MTA’s attempts to undermine the pension system and saddle workers with increasing healthcare expenses. The strike shut down much of the city, and despite the inconvenience, opinion polls showed that a majority of working-class New Yorkers supported the union and blamed management.[12] But the rest of the city’s union leaders failed to support the strike – which, like all public-sector strikes in New York State, was illegal – and Toussaint capitulated: he declared an end to the strike without having secured a contract deal. When later he did agree to a contract, the members first voted it down but then were pressured driven to accept it in a re-vote under Toussaint’s demoralizing leadership.[13] The membership was further weakened by fines and the loss of automatic dues check-off that crippled the union’s finances and divided its ranks.

“Solutions” that Solve Little

The response of Local 100 to the growing transit crisis under Toussaint’s successor, John Samuelson has been feeble. Samuelson proposed a plan for the MTA to solve the current crisis, including increased hiring to enable more frequent inspections and maintenance of tracks and rolling stock.[14] But in a system breaking down in so many ways these proposals were only band-aid. They avoided the biggest problems that require massive investments. A recent comprehensive list of vitally necessary repairs and improvements would cost well over $100 billion.[15]

In presenting his program as a list of helpful hints to the MTA, Samuelson avoided appealing to the working-class public to push for what needs to be done – by enlisting other unions and organizations of the communities endangered by the crisis, or even by mobilizing his own union membership to raise their demands publicly, loudly and massively. Scandalously, Samuelson said nothing about how the workers his union represents are being pushed to the breaking point. No wonder: he has been cooperating with management’s attacks, for example, by agreeing to contract provisions reducing workers’ rights to time off and compensation for forced overtime work. In mid-2017 Samuelson was elevated to be head of the TWU International. He was replaced as head of Local 100 by a career bureaucrat, Tony Utano, who is likely to be even more accommodating to management at the expense of his members.

Union bureaucrats who fail their members and the whole working class:
John Samuelsen swearing in Tony Utano to head TWU Local 100, September 2017

Joe Lhota, appointed MTA chairman by Cuomo in 2017, has also produced a plan, likewise offering small-scale solutions to a few problems while ignoring the huge crisis as well as management’s pressure on the workforce. Some of his points overlap with the union’s proposals; others are even tinier band-aid. They include more track cleaning, sealing water leaks, cutting response times for repairs, expanding the annual number of train car overhauls, pre-positioning response teams around the system, adding cars to trains on certain lines, increasing inspections of train car doors, getting clearer information to riders during “incidents,” and getting aid to sick passengers faster. He promises hiring 2400 more workers to accomplish this.[16]

Lhota even proposed removing seats from some subway cars in order to pack in more passengers in rush hours – thereby giving the finger to disabled people, pregnant women, parents with small children and the elderly and turning subway cars into cattle cars. (Indeed, the American Meat Institute has pointed out that cattle and sheep are never packed together as tightly as New York subway commuters in rush hour.[17]) The idea is as brilliant as the MTA’s decision a few years back to remove thousands of trash cans from subway stations, hoping that passengers would then carry all their garbage out of the stations. As anyone could have predicted, the plan backfired; the result was more trash on the tracks and a rash of track fires.[18]

Lhota’s plan, unlike Samuelson’s, has a long-term component addressing the need for modernization, but details have not yet been announced. Nevertheless, neither union or management is facing up to the enormity of the crisis. Above all, they do not explain where the money is to come from. Lhota says the city and state should pay equally; Samuelson made the demand only on the city, ignoring the state’s responsibility. That’s because Samuelson has been collaborating with Cuomo for years, accepting bad contract deals to get a seat at the governor’s table.[19] But whichever government entity pays, without a fight for a major overturn of business-as-usual, the working class will be squeezed with higher fares and/or taxes.

Mayor de Blasio, running for re-election in 2017, proposed a tax on the rich to fund subway improvements and a program of half-price rides for the poorest New Yorkers. His plan would raise city income taxes on those making over $500,000 a year. It sounds dramatic, but his one half of one percent hike would be a drop in the bucket compared to the billions needed, and would have to be approved by the state legislature where he has little influence. His proposal allowed the mayor to parade as a champion of the working class without scaring away his capitalist supporters who know that his tax proposal was just blowing smoke.

So What Is to Be Done?

Working-class and poor people are the most directly affected by the transit crisis. The miserable situation forced on transit workers as well as the public in general can be the basis for a united struggle. This requires that those responsible for the crisis be identified as the common enemy: the capitalists and the politicians they control who underfunded the system and turned it into a cash cow for Wall Street bond-holders – the same people whose crooked financial schemes triggered the crisis of 2008 and who got bailed out to the tune of trillions while millions of working people lost their jobs, pensions and homes.

It is time to think big. On top of the immediate maintenance and service improvements that Samuelson and Lhota address, the crisis demands thousands of new hires to expand the work force and major new construction projects and investments in new technology. The $100 billion-plus cost cited above calls for an equally massive funding plan – serious emergency measures that do not make the workers and poor pay. De Blasio’s proposal to tax the wealthy for social needs was totally inadequate, but it appealed to the growing recognition that dealing with the deepening crisis means making those profiting from the system pay the price. Polls continue to show a majority of the people in the country favor significantly higher taxes on the rich, especially in a city where millionaires abound.[20] We stand with the sentiment to tax the rich, the banks and the corporations.

The limited solutions so far proposed all accept the role of Wall Street and real estate capitalists in financing and profiting from the transit system. Increased taxes on the wealthy to pay for emergency improvements in services like transit will be wasted if a big part of the public service budget is dedicated to paying interests on debts to capitalist investors. Therefore we propose to link demands for increased taxes on the rich and the banks and corporations with a fight for a freeze of debt service payments to bondholders, which would quickly boost the transit budget by 20 percent.

Of course, working-class and poor people should favor repudiating all debts to the capitalists. But a complete repudiation of the transit debt to Wall Street would require a huge struggle and would threaten the financial stability and political power of the entire capitalist class. For that reason, at a time when the working class does not yet feel empowered by the experience of growing struggles, a call for repudiation of the debt would generally be regarded as impractical and gather little active support. But given the seriousness of the current transit crisis, the more modest demand for a moratorium on payments to bondholders could, along with other demands, inspire a movement and build toward even greater struggle which might well advance a demand to cancel the debt altogether.

A fighting mass movement would put enough fear into the powers that be to make them carry out any of the necessary measures; and even then they would be but temporary and partial solutions. Leaving control of the economy in the hands of the capitalists would allow them to wield that power to fight back in a variety of ways. For as long as the capitalist class owns the major means of production and controls the governments and all institutions of state power, these will serve the capitalist system that depends on exploitation and oppression.

As revolutionary socialists, we believe that all wealth and power must be seized from the capitalists through a revolution led by the working class, so that a socialist economy can be built in the interests of the masses. After a socialist revolution that overthrows capitalism, a revolutionary society would establish full employment, decent guaranteed health care, a program of public works and a healthy economy. With the establishment of a government of the working class and oppressed resting on a workers’ state, the fight against racism, sexism and other social ills would make serious strides forward. Over time, all these reactionary poisons could be wiped out. Further, socialism can achieve abundance for all only by pooling the industrial power and resources of many countries, which is why international socialist revolution is the key to reaching a truly classless society where all divisions between people would dissolve.

We understand that revolutionary conclusions will be reached by larger numbers of working people and youth only through their experience of mass struggles, including for reforms. So today, when there is clearly the potential for a mass movement to grow behind such demands, revolutionaries should promote the idea of mass working-class struggle to win massive increases in taxes on the rich and on the banks and corporations. In the course of today’s struggles, we explain that to end the worsening crises of the capitalist system, the working class will have to seize power from the capitalists and set about building a socialist society of freedom and abundance for all.

Even though the great majority of workers today do not see it that way, reality is that conditions of life are worsening to the point where explosions of mass anger and struggle will become more frequent and more powerful. In recent years there have been notable struggles like the Black Lives Matter movement against police killings, the immigrant rights movements, the battles for Native American rights, and campaigns to defend health care and abortion rights. But the strongest battalions of the working class – the trade unions, with their power to shut down profit-making through strikes – have for the most part not found their way into the struggle, or even into solidarity with other struggles. The unions could do a great deal to support the struggles against racism, sexism and anti-immigrant attacks. This could be a key step toward building the united working class fight back of union and non union-workers, employed and unemployed, that is essential for stopping the anti-working-class attacks that Trump in particular has been intensifying.

The TWU’s Shameful Inaction

In the light of the immense urban and public transit crisis in New York City, it is treacherous that TWU Local 100 stands aside, leaving community organizations to organize the relatively small rallies they can against the neglect of transit. It is harmful to all workers that TWU Local 100 appeals to Democratic and sometimes even Republican politicians who are starving the system as though they were the friends of workers and public transit. Instead of pushing for a Tax the Rich plan, taking advantage of de Blasio’s re-opening of the issue, Local 100’s leaders have demanded that the mayor increase transit funding out of current revenues. That bolsters their pal Cuomo’s claims that only the city and not the state is to be blamed, and leaves the crisis unsolved.

TWU Local 100 has the power to make demands on the politicians and bosses at all levels. It could, with reasonable preparation, bring a sizable fraction of its members into the streets to demand an emergency program of subway rebuilding and expansion that creates tens of thousands of good and needed jobs. The Local could organize the workers to make clear that with the current low employee numbers it is impossible for the system to operate as it should.

If Local 100 showed itself able to mobilize a mass fight for decent transport, it would be in a good position to urge other unions and immigrant and community organizations to bring their members out as well. Masses of non-union workers and young people could be motivated to join such a movement. It would show that the working class and poor people can force improvements, instead of accepting or merely complaining about capitalist attacks and neglect.

The League for the Revolutionary Party and its transit worker supporters organized around the Revolutionary Transit Worker newsletter, work to connect all the dots and show how society’s breakdowns and outrages are linked and point to the overall capitalist system as responsible. Towards that end, we have protested fare hikes and spoken at the MTA hearings last winter on the question. We have fought in the local to have the union and union members champion the cause of subway riders, particularly the poorest. Drawing the lessons of mass struggles like those outlined above, we hope to show that to win gains and keep them requires socialist revolution.

To bring that revolution about requires that the most revolutionary-minded workers organize into a revolutionary working-class party that can, over time, win the support of increasing numbers of our fellow workers. The growing attacks by the capitalist system will inevitably trigger further popular protest movements. We can begin now to build the political leadership that the working class needs to address the severe crises it faces.

Notes

1. See “The state of the New York subway: transit experts weigh in”, www.ny.curbed.com; “Why Your Commute Sucks”, www.indypendent.org, June 23, 2017. “Every New York City Subway Line Is Getting Worse. Here’s Why”, www.nytimes.com.

2. “The NYPD makes the most arrests for a $2.75 crime,” Business Insider, May 10, 2016

3. “Who Really Runs New York City’s Subway?”, www.nytimes.com, July 25, 2017.
“No cause for confusion about where the transit buck stops” (editorial), www.crainsnewyork.com

4. The funding scandal has been uncovered by a number of reporters, including Zak Fink of the TV station NY1, Max Rivlin-Nadler of the Village Voice and Benjamin Kabak of the blog Second Avenue Sagas. See:
“Governor Cuomo’s $65 Million Shortchanging of MTA Riders, Explained,” www.villagevoice.com, February 24, 2017;
“Guess Which NY Governor Just Took $1 Billion Meant for MTA Subway Signals and Spent It Elsewhere?, www.villagevoice.com, July 7, 2017;
“Cuomo’s MTA Debt Bomb: How the Pieces Fit Together,” nyc.streetsblog.org, April 8, 2016;
“Cuomo MIA on MTA Funding as Straphangers Brace for Another Fare Hike,” nyc, streetsblog.org, January 1, 2017;
“Cuomo’s broken promises: What an increase in the MTA’s debt ceiling really means,” secondavenuesagas.com, April 11, 2016;
“Gov. Cuomo’s MTA capital repair funds for new subway cars redirected to other projects,” www.dailynews.com.
Also: “For years, officials had only partly funded signal repairs and replacements. Much of the subway’s signaling equipment was decades beyond its life span. Just a few months before [the July 2017] ill-fated commute, the M.T.A. had cut signal funding by $500 million to support projects favored by Mr. Cuomo.”
“How Politics and Bad Decisions Starved New York’s Subways,” www.nytimes.com, November 18, 2017.

5. “Subway Commute Snared by Debris, Switch Problem and Power Malfunction,” www.nytimes.com, September 14, 2017

6. See our Marxist Analysis of the Capitalist Crisis: Bankrupt System Drives Toward Depression PDF.

7. Arun Gupta, “Why the MTA is Broken;” www.indypendent.org, June 2009

8. “What’s really behind the MTA’s money woes,” New York Post, July 27, 2017

9. MTA 2017 Adopted Budget – February Financial Plan 2017-2020, p. 334, www.web.mta.info PDF

10. “How Politics and Bad Decisions Starved New York’s Subways,” New York Times, November 19, 2017;

11. See the letter on this website to the New York Times (not published) by two Revolutionary Transit Worker (RTW) supporters.

12. Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, “NYC Transit Strike Enters Third Day: Negotiations Resume, Threats to Workers Heat Up, Public Support Remains High,” Democracy Now! Radio, December 22, 2005.

13. See New York Transit Workers Get Raw Deal, Proletarian Revolution (2006); and various issues of Revolutionary Transit Worker during the strike period and after.

14. “Transit Workers Union presents 10-point plan to help fix NYC subways,” www.nydailynews.com. See also the RTW leaflet “Team Cuomo’s” Customer Service Ambassador Debacle subtitled “A Bad Deal that Was Going to Be Much Worse until Militant Resistance Forced Utano & Management to Retreat”

15. Jonathan Miller,“The Case for the Subway. It built the city. Now, no matter the cost – at least $100 billion – the city must rebuild it to survive.” New York Times Magazine, January 7, 2018

16. “Subway rescue plan: 2,400 new hires, $836 million in new spending,” www.crainsnewyork.com, July 25, 2017.

17. “A crowded subway car is stocked much more densely than a cattle or pig truck. ... You would never load a truck with cattle or sheep until all you could do was close the door.”
“If a Standing Desk Is Good, What About a Standing Commute?”, www.nytimes.com, July 27, 2017.

18. “MTA Trashes Pilot Program Removing Garbage Cans From Subway Stations,” www.newyork.cbslocal.com, March 29, 2017.
“Removing subway trash cans has resulted in more track fires, litter: DiNapoli” www.nypost.com, February 14, 2017

19. See Revolutionary Transit Worker No. 63.

20. “Americans Still Say Upper-Income Pay Too Little in Taxes,” www.gallup.com

Tags: TWU 100Public TransitTransit health and safety
Categories: Labor News

Transit Equity Video Townhalls "Memories of our lives, or our works and our deeds will continue in others" - Rosa Parks

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 10:53

Transit Equity Video Townhalls "Memories of our lives, or our works and our deeds will continue in others" - Rosa Parks
http://www.labor4sustainability.org/transit-equity-day/

Transit Equity Video Townhalls

"Memories of our lives, or our works and our deeds will continue in others" - Rosa Parks

Transit Equity Video Townhalls

"Memories of our lives, or our works and our deeds will continue in others" - Rosa Parks

Join One of Two Townhalls:
Sunday, January 28th, 2018
5:30 PM Eastern Time
and 5:30 PM Pacific

Transit Equity Day is a collaborative effort of several organizations and unions to promote public transit as a civil right and a strategy to combat climate change.
We are choosing Rosa Parks’ birthday because she is an iconic figure of the civil rights era who chose the tactic of refusing to give up her seat on the bus.[1] We want to make the connection to this act of resistance to highlight the rights of all people to high-quality public transportation powered by clean/renewable energy. This day of action will also help to enforce a broader strategy that promotes a “full spectrum” just transition from the fossil fuel economy (energy, energy efficiency, transportation, waste, agriculture…) to clean, renewable energy as part of confronting the climate crisis. Increasing, non-fossil fuel, public transportation is a foundation to achieving this transition.
A just transition requires that we uphold worker and civil rights. This means that everyone should have the right and access to free (or at least affordable) public transportation regardless of age, race, or class. It also includes supporting the rights of workers to organize in the sectors that will build, operate and maintain public transportation infrastructure, as well as provide the services.
We also want to promote the principle of public vs. private investment in public transportation – the need for public resources and infrastructure (public transportation, public regulation of our energy systems, a stronger public sector overall, etc.), to lead and administer the transition to fossil fuel free public transportation.
[1] Rosa Parks’ Birthday is February 4 and falls on a Sunday. Because of this, we are choosing Monday, February 5 as the day of action.
Toolkit

Tags: ATU Transit Equity Video Townhallsatuenvirornment
Categories: Labor News

Fired Florida CSX conductor seeking whistleblower protection, changes within company

Sat, 01/13/2018 - 18:02

Fired Florida CSX conductor seeking whistleblower protection, changes within company
http://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/local/fired-csx-conductor-seeking-whis...
By: Kevin Clark , Action News Jax

Updated: Dec 1, 2017 - 9:46 AM

1373
A former CSX employee says he was fired for speaking out about safety concerns to the company and in an interview with Action News Jax.

Louis Billingsley is now seeking whistleblower protection.

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He was fired by CSX this month after nearly 12 years as a conductor.

During a July interview with Action News Jax, Billingsley shared his concerns about the abolition of certain safety procedures for rail workers.

One policy change eliminated the three-step rule, an extra safeguard to keep cars from moving when employees are working between or under them.

Another change banned the use of the brake stick, meaning conductors now have to tie the brakes by hand.

“It’s just a matter of time before someone seriously gets hurt,” Billingsley told Action News Jax Thursday.

CSX has been under scrutiny for other operating changes since CEO Hunter Harrison took over earlier this year.

As CSX has cut jobs to try to increase efficiency, it has consolidated trains to make them longer.

Billingsley claims the trains have become too long, making it hard for rail employees to communicate from one end to the other.

The longer trains often block neighborhoods and streets for hours at a time on their way in and out of railyards.

“We need to show that we care about the public, we care about the people, and sometimes that’s worth more than record-breaking profits,” Billingsley said.

But Billingsley says when he raised these concerns, CSX became retaliatory.

A day after Billingsley interviewed with Action News Jax in July, he received a short voicemail telling him he’d been fired.

“I couldn’t believe it, I was like, ‘Wow, they really want to shut you up,’” said Billingsley.

Not 40 minutes later, another voicemail from CSX told him he’d been rehired.

“I think they realized what they did, and they put me back into service,” he said.

But for the next couple of months after that, Billingsley claims he was targeted, and that his superiors followed him around and watched his every move.

“Almost two months later, they got me. On a minor infraction,” he said.

The dismissal letter obtained by Action News Jax says Billingsley was fired for running in the gauge of the rail, operating a switch with one hand, and “not maintaining visual contact with the equipment while making a shove move.”

But Billingsley tells us everyone within CSX knew he was fired because he spoke out against the changes associated with Precision Railroading, and what he calls the “culture of fear” within the company.

“It was all from that interview I placed,” he said. “And I did the interview because I think the public needs to know what kind of environment CSX has become.”

When Action News Jax reached out to CSX for this story, a company spokesperson told us:

"CSX does not comment on individual personnel matters. Safety remains CSX’s highest priority in every aspect of our operations."

She then added:

"CSX denies any allegation that it would retaliate against an employee who raises safety concerns."

Billingsley has retained an attorney, who is filing a complaint with OSHA.

The attorney, John Magnuson, told Action News Jax that if Billingsley doesn’t get his job back, they’ll likely file a whistleblower protection lawsuit in federal court.

“I’m an example of what happens when you open your mouth and voice a concern,” Billingsley said.

Tags: CSX safetyhealth and safety whistleblower
Categories: Labor News

Florida CSX railroad worker fights firing after speaking out safety

Sat, 01/13/2018 - 17:56

Florida CSX railroad worker fights firing after speaking out safety

http://www.themilitant.com/2018/8202/820254.html

Vol. 82/No. 2 January 15, 2018

Fla. rail worker fights firing after speaking out
on safety

BY ANTHONY DUTROW
Louis Billingsley, a freight rail conductor with 12 years experience, is fighting his firing after speaking out against unsafe practices and conditions at the CSX railroad in a televised interview on CBS Action News Jax in Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville is CSX’s corporate headquarters.
CSX, one of the two large Class 1 railroads covering the eastern half of the country, along with Norfolk Southern, has been on a drive to combine trains, eliminate workers’ jobs and make more profit for the bosses and bondholders.

Action News Jax reported last June that freight trains often keep traffic backed up in the area for hours, preventing people from getting to work or to medical or other appointments.

One woman interviewed had to miss her treatment for Stage 3 cancer, as all roads out of her neighborhood were blocked by a train.

These longer trains are part of a drive for profits in the rail industry, especially in the seven Class 1 roads in North America — which each rake in at least $453 million annually. Together they control 69 percent of the industry’s trackage, 90 percent of its workers and 94 percent of all freight revenue.

When Billingsley was on a train crew that kept a series of crossings closed, he told Action News in July that seeing people disrupted this way “was heartbreaking.” Billingsley told the reporter that at one point he separated one of the trains in the Dinsmore neighborhood that had blocked traffic for two hours.

“These trains are getting longer and doubling up,” Billingsley told Action News, adding that CSX “stocks are going up, that’s all they care about.”

“I have to walk back here and fix the train, and my radio can’t even reach the engineer it’s so long,” he said.

The day after the interview was aired, CSX sent Billingsley a voicemail saying he was fired. Then 40 minutes later the company sent another voicemail saying he was rehired.

For the next two months, CSX managers followed Billingsley, looking to pressure him into any infraction of their rulebook. They found a pretext to fire him. Billingsley’s “crimes?” They said he stepped on a rail and threw a switch with one hand, neither of which was any conceivable threat to the communities residing near the tracks.

Billingsley has refused to be intimidated. He retained a lawyer, John Magnuson, and filed a claim with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. They are considering a “whistle-blower” suit through the federal courts.

In August 2017, just eight months after CSX inaugurated its “Precision Scheduled Railroading” — a term coined by its new CEO Hunter Harrison — a two-mile-long train, hauling dangerous chemicals, derailed in Hyndman, Pennsylvania.

Tank cars filled with liquid propane and molten sulfur ruptured and burst into flames, forcing the evacuation of over 1,000 people from the town and surrounding areas for days.

Harrison’s version of “precision” railroading is admired and imitated by profit-hungry rail bosses across North America.

Harrison died suddenly in December. The bosses at CSX and its shareholders had brought him over from Canadian Pacific Railway earlier in 2017 because of his record of “turning around” the profit rates at Illinois Central Railway and Canadian National Railway.

He led the bosses there in attacks on jobs, safety conditions, elimination of less profitable yards and train combinations that led to stockholders pocketing higher returns on their shares — 516 percent at Illinois Central, 1989-97; 353 percent at Canadian National, 1998-2009; and 319 percent at Canadian Pacific.

In addition to dangerously increasing train lengths and eliminating safer practices and rules, Harrison and CSX bosses closed major yards, including in Atlanta and Cumberland, Maryland, and they’ve laid off close to 10 percent of the railroad’s 28,000 workers. Nine cars derailed on another CSX train in Hyndman Dec. 29. Management at CSX — and their competitors across the continent — have made clear they will continue their productivity and profit drive, as they have done throughout the industry for decades.

Tags: Rail safetyhealth and safetyCSX retaliation
Categories: Labor News

Protests Coast To Coast, And Even Abroad Meet The Final Phase Of The Lac-Mégantic Trial

Sat, 01/13/2018 - 16:55

Protests Coast To Coast, And Even Abroad Meet The Final Phase Of The Lac-Mégantic Trial

http://hardingdefense.org/2018/01/08/protests-coast-to-coast-and-even-ab...

Richard LabrieTom Harding
The most important rail safety trial of our time will soon be in the hands of the jury. They are tasked with the difficult decision of whether or not to hold rail workers accountable for actions of their employers because it’s plain that there will be no other accountability, despite what is now a matter of public record.

The wrong people are on trial. Check out this interview with RCI, Radio Canada International.

The stakes are high. But fortunately, many people across North America are not fooled by the Crown’s phony veneer of holding people personally accountable for the tragedy. No such real personal accountability will ever be made, since the government made it’s decision to target only the last persons in a danger chain that continues across every railroad to this moment.

On January 4th and 5th, in cities across America, people took their call for real rail safety, No More Lac-Mégantics and opposition to scapegoating workers to Canadian consulates as far away as Sao Paulo, Brazil. In several cases, they had to experience severe weather but came out anyway, knowing how important this case is. Active rail workers, Union members, working class militants, rail and other retirees protested in San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Washington DC and Minneapolis. Solidarity activists, Climate Change fighters, volatile oil opponents and environmental activists turned out their support to add their voices to the protests and delivering notice to the Canadian government that justice and rail safety cannot be served by framing up rail workers for the conditions they are forced, with government complicity, to work under. In some cities, they delivered printed statements and letters to consular officials.

ChicagoMinneapolis
Members of rail unions, Railroad Workers United, the United Electrical workers, Communication Workers of America and others were joined by the Workers Solidarity Action Network, the Backbone Campaign, Chesapeake Climate Action Network and many others stood up to oppose scapegoating and stand with the community of Lac-Mégantic, whose activists have an ongoing fight for the safety of their town more than 4 years after the government appointed scapegoats have had no role.

These stand up people across the country have taken their time, money and energy into the street and to the Canadian consulates because they know that their own concerns, health and safety are at stake in the outcome of the Lac-Mégantic trial.

In the court room in Sherbrooke Quebec, one of the scapegoated rail workers, Tom Harding, was able to see photographs of the protests, letting them know they are not alone in the fight for actual accountability.

Seattle
On Monday, January 8, 2018, attorney Charles Shearson has begun presenting the defense of Tom Harding. That defense will be a summary of the evidence presented by the Crown prosecutors in their attempt to demonize Tom Harding as the criminally negligent cause of the wreck that nearly destroyed Lac-Mégantic and killed 47 outright. It should be noteworthy that the defense has made the determination that the facts supporting acquittal of Harding are already in evidence having been made by the Crown itself.

Sao Paulo, Brazil
The case will go to the jury this week. A conviction of one or both of the scapegoated rail workers is the signal the rail industry across the continent has been waiting for…a signal that they are free to conduct any and all of the dangerous practices and policies documented in the wreck of Lac-Mégantic, without any fear of liability. Some, like the actual policy makers and owners of the Montreal Maine and Atlantic (MMA), who are still free and running railroads around the world will breathe even easier as they take their profits; knowing that what they did will never have consequences for them.

Chicago
People are watching this trial all over the world. The stakes couldn’t be higher. The activists who braved the cold last week to deliver the message that we are all watching will be talking in the coming weeks, along with their Canadian counterparts, about the next necessary steps that we must take if we are truly going to see No More Lac-Mégantics!

Canadian USW Rail Workers Harding & Labrie Are Not Guilty! Drop The Charges NOW! Rally In SF
https://youtu.be/bFawXtH2C-k
A solidarity rally was held at the San Francisco Canadian Consulate on January 4, 2018 to demand that charges be dropped against MMA USW union railroad workers Tom Harding and Richard Labrie for the deaths of 47 people in the Lac-Mégantic train wreck. The highly flammable cargo on the train cars was only manned by one worker and the evidence at the trial has shown that there were not proper safety measures in place. The company MMA and the Canadian government according to speakers is now scapegoating the workers. The Canadian government like the US government has pushed deregulation and 1 person crews being pushed by the rail owners and the speakers charged this was the real reason for this and other rail disasters in Canada and the US. A letter calling for the dropping of the charges was delivered to the Canadian Consulate.
The speakers also discussed the growing rail wrecks and dangerous transportation system in the United States and this was connected to similar efforts to downsize the staffing of the trains and deregulation. Speakers included trade unionists from SMART Local 1741 SF Bus Drivers, SEIU 1021 Social And Economic Justice Committee, Labor Council For Latin American Advancement Sacramento Chapter and members of Railroad Workers United RWU and Workers Solidarity Action Network WSAN. Environmental activists also attended and spoke.
This was an international day of solidarity and there were also support actions in Chicago, Seattle, DC and in Sao Paulo, Brazil at Canadian consulates and embassies.
Additional media:
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio/ww12-26-17-campaign-for-railroad-w...
http://railroadworkersunited.org/lac-megantic/
https://static1.squarespace.com/static/505b96a8c4aa40a37a143c49/t/5814d3...
http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/montreal/mma-lac-megantic-trial-jonat...
http://www.themilitant.com/2015/7905/790553.html
http://www.cbc.ca/…/lac-megantic-criminal-trial-begins-sher…
http://www.newswire.ca/…/steelworkers-local-gives-70000-to-…
https://www.ble-t.org/pr/news/headline.asp?id=39797
http://hardingdefense.org
http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/steelworkers-local-gives-70000-to-r...
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/lac-megantic-criminal-trial-begin...
http://jordanbarab.com/confinedspace/2017/10/24/lac-megantic-trial/
For further information on the case:
Harding Defense Committee
http://hardingdefense.org
Railroad Workers United
www.railroadworkersunited.org
Workers Solidarity Action Network
www.workerssolidarityactionnetwork.org
Production of Labor Video Project
www.laborvideo.org

Tags: Lac-Mégantic TrialsolidarityWSANRail safetyframe-up trial
Categories: Labor News

SF TWU 250A President Elect Roger Marenco Suspended After Winning Election

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 16:21

SF TWU 250A President Elect Roger Marenco Suspended After Winning Election
SF TWU 250a Election Results Dec. 2017 And Challenge To Election of Roger Marenco-
The Transit Talk 15: SF TWU 250a Election
Results Dec. 2017 And Challenge To Election of Roger Marenco
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2aJE4nqFTs
Roger Marenco
Published on Jan 11, 2018
In this episode we do our best to clear up any confusion that our membership might have pertaining to our December 2017 election. This episode contains both good news as well as bad news and we do our best to try and answer many questions that have come forth from all of the confusion. If you still have any questions or concerns after watching the episode, please feel free to express your thoughts. Thank you.

Tags: TWU 250ASan Francisco Transit WorkersRoger Marenco
Categories: Labor News

Fired Florida CSX conductor seeking whistleblower protection, changes within company

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 17:41

Fired Florida CSX conductor seeking whistleblower protection, changes within company
http://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/local/fired-csx-conductor-seeking-whis...
By: Kevin Clark , Action News Jax

Updated: Dec 1, 2017 - 9:46 AM

1370
A former CSX employee says he was fired for speaking out about safety concerns to the company and in an interview with Action News Jax.

Louis Billingsley is now seeking whistleblower protection.

During a July interview with Action News Jax, Billingsley shared his concerns about the abolition of certain safety procedures for rail workers. He was fired by CSX this month after nearly 12 years as a conductor.

One policy change eliminated the three-step rule, an extra safeguard to keep cars from moving when employees are working between or under them.

Another change banned the use of the brake stick, meaning conductors now have to tie the brakes by hand.

“It’s just a matter of time before someone seriously gets hurt,” Billingsley told Action News Jax Thursday.

CSX has been under scrutiny for other operating changes since CEO Hunter Harrison took over earlier this year.

As CSX has cut jobs to try to increase efficiency, it has consolidated trains to make them longer.

Billingsley claims the trains have become too long, making it hard for rail employees to communicate from one end to the other.

The longer trains often block neighborhoods and streets for hours at a time on their way in and out of railyards.

“We need to show that we care about the public, we care about the people, and sometimes that’s worth more than record-breaking profits,” Billingsley said.

But Billingsley says when he raised these concerns, CSX became retaliatory.

A day after Billingsley interviewed with Action News Jax in July, he received a short voicemail telling him he’d been fired.

“I couldn’t believe it, I was like, ‘Wow, they really want to shut you up,’” said Billingsley.

Not 40 minutes later, another voicemail from CSX told him he’d been rehired.

“I think they realized what they did, and they put me back into service,” he said.

But for the next couple of months after that, Billingsley claims he was targeted, and that his superiors followed him around and watched his every move.

“Almost two months later, they got me. On a minor infraction,” he said.

The dismissal letter obtained by Action News Jax says Billingsley was fired for running in the gauge of the rail, operating a switch with one hand, and “not maintaining visual contact with the equipment while making a shove move.”

But Billingsley tells us everyone within CSX knew he was fired because he spoke out against the changes associated with Precision Railroading, and what he calls the “culture of fear” within the company.

“It was all from that interview I placed,” he said. “And I did the interview because I think the public needs to know what kind of environment CSX has become.”

When Action News Jax reached out to CSX for this story, a company spokesperson told us:

"CSX does not comment on individual personnel matters. Safety remains CSX’s highest priority in every aspect of our operations."

She then added:

"CSX denies any allegation that it would retaliate against an employee who raises safety concerns."

Billingsley has retained an attorney, who is filing a complaint with OSHA.

The attorney, John Magnuson, told Action News Jax that if Billingsley doesn’t get his job back, they’ll likely file a whistleblower protection lawsuit in federal court.

“I’m an example of what happens when you open your mouth and voice a concern,” Billingsley said.

Fla. rail worker fights firing after speaking out

on safety
http://www.themilitant.com/2018/8202/820254.html

Vol. 82/No. 2 January 15, 2018

BY ANTHONY DUTROW
Louis Billingsley, a freight rail conductor with 12 years experience, is fighting his firing after speaking out against unsafe practices and conditions at the CSX railroad in a televised interview on CBS Action News Jax in Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville is CSX’s corporate headquarters.
CSX, one of the two large Class 1 railroads covering the eastern half of the country, along with Norfolk Southern, has been on a drive to combine trains, eliminate workers’ jobs and make more profit for the bosses and bondholders.

Action News Jax reported last June that freight trains often keep traffic backed up in the area for hours, preventing people from getting to work or to medical or other appointments.

One woman interviewed had to miss her treatment for Stage 3 cancer, as all roads out of her neighborhood were blocked by a train.

These longer trains are part of a drive for profits in the rail industry, especially in the seven Class 1 roads in North America — which each rake in at least $453 million annually. Together they control 69 percent of the industry’s trackage, 90 percent of its workers and 94 percent of all freight revenue.

When Billingsley was on a train crew that kept a series of crossings closed, he told Action News in July that seeing people disrupted this way “was heartbreaking.” Billingsley told the reporter that at one point he separated one of the trains in the Dinsmore neighborhood that had blocked traffic for two hours.

“These trains are getting longer and doubling up,” Billingsley told Action News, adding that CSX “stocks are going up, that’s all they care about.”

“I have to walk back here and fix the train, and my radio can’t even reach the engineer it’s so long,” he said.

The day after the interview was aired, CSX sent Billingsley a voicemail saying he was fired. Then 40 minutes later the company sent another voicemail saying he was rehired.

For the next two months, CSX managers followed Billingsley, looking to pressure him into any infraction of their rulebook. They found a pretext to fire him. Billingsley’s “crimes?” They said he stepped on a rail and threw a switch with one hand, neither of which was any conceivable threat to the communities residing near the tracks.

Billingsley has refused to be intimidated. He retained a lawyer, John Magnuson, and filed a claim with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. They are considering a “whistle-blower” suit through the federal courts.

In August 2017, just eight months after CSX inaugurated its “Precision Scheduled Railroading” — a term coined by its new CEO Hunter Harrison — a two-mile-long train, hauling dangerous chemicals, derailed in Hyndman, Pennsylvania.

Tank cars filled with liquid propane and molten sulfur ruptured and burst into flames, forcing the evacuation of over 1,000 people from the town and surrounding areas for days.

Harrison’s version of “precision” railroading is admired and imitated by profit-hungry rail bosses across North America.

Harrison died suddenly in December. The bosses at CSX and its shareholders had brought him over from Canadian Pacific Railway earlier in 2017 because of his record of “turning around” the profit rates at Illinois Central Railway and Canadian National Railway.

He led the bosses there in attacks on jobs, safety conditions, elimination of less profitable yards and train combinations that led to stockholders pocketing higher returns on their shares — 516 percent at Illinois Central, 1989-97; 353 percent at Canadian National, 1998-2009; and 319 percent at Canadian Pacific.

In addition to dangerously increasing train lengths and eliminating safer practices and rules, Harrison and CSX bosses closed major yards, including in Atlanta and Cumberland, Maryland, and they’ve laid off close to 10 percent of the railroad’s 28,000 workers. Nine cars derailed on another CSX train in Hyndman Dec. 29. Management at CSX — and their competitors across the continent — have made clear they will continue their productivity and profit drive, as they have done throughout the industry for decades.

Tags: CSXhealth and safetywhistleblowerretaliation
Categories: Labor News

WorkWeek Radio 1-9-18 On Rail Safety Wrecks 1 Person Crews and KPFA Pacifica Crisis And Future

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 16:13

WorkWeek Radio 1-9-18 On Rail Safety Wrecks 1 Person Crews and KPFA Pacifica Crisis And Future
WW1-9-18 Rail Safety Wrecks 1 Person Crews and KPFA Pacifica Crisis And Future
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio/ww1-9-18-rail-safety-wrecks-1-pers...
WorkWeek Radio hears from speakers at a rally at the San Francisco Canadian consulate who are demanding the dropping of charges against two Canadian railway workers Tom Harding and Richard Labrie in Quebec for the death of 47 people in the town of Lac-Mégantic. The 67 car train was filled with fuel that exploded and created massive destruction and havoc. The train only had one person as a result of the corporate downsizing and deregulation by the Canadian government.
WorkWeek then interviews John Risch who is the SMART National Legislative Director of the SMART Transportation Division and works on health and safety issues in the rail industry. He discusses the systemic problems that are leading to railroad wrecks.
Next we look at the crisis at Pacifica Foundation and KPFA with Tom Vorhees who is a building of micro and full power radio stations and is on the KPFA local station board. He was also involved in establishing the independent media center in Seattle, Washington to expose the WTO and break the information blockade.
For more information
https://youtu.be/bFawXtH2C-k
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio/ww12-26-17-campaign-for-railroad-w...
http://railroadworkersunited.org/lac-megantic/
https://static1.squarespace.com/static/505b96a8c4aa40a37a143c49/t/5814d3...
http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/montreal/mma-lac-megantic-trial-jonat...
http://www.themilitant.com/2015/7905/790553.html
http://www.cbc.ca/…/lac-megantic-criminal-trial-begins-sher…
http://www.newswire.ca/…/steelworkers-local-gives-70000-to-…
https://www.ble-t.org/pr/news/headline.asp?id=39797
http://hardingdefense.org
http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/steelworkers-local-gives-70000-to-r...
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/lac-megantic-criminal-trial-begin...
http://jordanbarab.com/confinedspace/2017/10/24/lac-megantic-trial/
For further information on the case:
Harding Defense Committee
http://hardingdefense.org
Railroad Workers United
www.railroadworkersunited.org
Production of WorkWeek Radio
workweek@kpfa.org
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio

Categories: Labor News

WorkWeek Radio 1-9-18 On Rail Safety Wrecks 1 Person Crews and KPFA Pacifica Crisis And Future

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 16:13

WorkWeek Radio 1-9-18 On Rail Safety Wrecks 1 Person Crews and KPFA Pacifica Crisis And Future
WW1-9-18 Rail Safety Wrecks 1 Person Crews and KPFA Pacifica Crisis And Future
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio/ww1-9-18-rail-safety-wrecks-1-pers...
WorkWeek Radio hears from speakers at a rally at the San Francisco Canadian consulate who are demanding the dropping of charges against two Canadian railway workers Tom Harding and Richard Labrie in Quebec for the death of 47 people in the town of Lac-Mégantic. The 67 car train was filled with fuel that exploded and created massive destruction and havoc. The train only had one person as a result of the corporate downsizing and deregulation by the Canadian government.
WorkWeek then interviews John Risch who is the SMART National Legislative Director of the SMART Transportation Division and works on health and safety issues in the rail industry. He discusses the systemic problems that are leading to railroad wrecks.
Next we look at the crisis at Pacifica Foundation and KPFA with Tom Vorhees who is a building of micro and full power radio stations and is on the KPFA local station board. He was also involved in establishing the independent media center in Seattle, Washington to expose the WTO and break the information blockade.
For more information
https://youtu.be/bFawXtH2C-k
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio/ww12-26-17-campaign-for-railroad-w...
http://railroadworkersunited.org/lac-megantic/
https://static1.squarespace.com/static/505b96a8c4aa40a37a143c49/t/5814d3...
http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/montreal/mma-lac-megantic-trial-jonat...
http://www.themilitant.com/2015/7905/790553.html
http://www.cbc.ca/…/lac-megantic-criminal-trial-begins-sher…
http://www.newswire.ca/…/steelworkers-local-gives-70000-to-…
https://www.ble-t.org/pr/news/headline.asp?id=39797
http://hardingdefense.org
http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/steelworkers-local-gives-70000-to-r...
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/lac-megantic-criminal-trial-begin...
http://jordanbarab.com/confinedspace/2017/10/24/lac-megantic-trial/
For further information on the case:
Harding Defense Committee
http://hardingdefense.org
Railroad Workers United
www.railroadworkersunited.org
Production of WorkWeek Radio
workweek@kpfa.org
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio

Categories: Labor News

ILWU Longshore Worker Dies at SSA Marine Terminal in San Diego

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 14:59

LWU Longshore Worker Dies at SSA Marine Terminal in San Diego

https://worldmaritimenews.com/archives/239953/longshore-worker-dies-at-m...

A longshore worker died on January 3 in a forklift accident while working at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal in San Diego, California.

The worker was an employee of Stevedoring Services-America in San Diego, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“On January 3, 2018 Cal/OSHA was notified of a fatality incident at 1790 Water Street involving a worker of Stevedoring Services-America in San Diego. It has been reported that a worker was fatally injured while operating a forklift,” OSHA said in a statement to World Maritime News.

According to a spokesperson from the Port of San Diego, all the details related to the incident are yet to be determined.

“At this time, we do not know the identity of the person who died. Cal OSHA has been contacted, and the incident is under investigation,” the port spokesperson said.

OSHA added that it has six months to issue citations for violations of workplace safety and health regulations.

World Maritime News Staff

Tags: ilwuDeath on the jobslongshore death
Categories: Labor News

ILWU Longshore Worker Dies at SSA Marine Terminal in San Diego

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 14:59

LWU Longshore Worker Dies at SSA Marine Terminal in San Diego

https://worldmaritimenews.com/archives/239953/longshore-worker-dies-at-m...

A longshore worker died on January 3 in a forklift accident while working at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal in San Diego, California.

The worker was an employee of Stevedoring Services-America in San Diego, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“On January 3, 2018 Cal/OSHA was notified of a fatality incident at 1790 Water Street involving a worker of Stevedoring Services-America in San Diego. It has been reported that a worker was fatally injured while operating a forklift,” OSHA said in a statement to World Maritime News.

According to a spokesperson from the Port of San Diego, all the details related to the incident are yet to be determined.

“At this time, we do not know the identity of the person who died. Cal OSHA has been contacted, and the incident is under investigation,” the port spokesperson said.

OSHA added that it has six months to issue citations for violations of workplace safety and health regulations.

World Maritime News Staff

Tags: ilwuDeath on the jobslongshore death
Categories: Labor News

Families Of Korean MV Stellar Daisy Appeal To Get Black Box, Full Disclosure & Safety

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 14:54

Families Of Korean MV Stellar Daisy Appeal To Get Black Box, Full Disclosure & Safety
by Korean Families of the Missing Crewmen of MV
Monday Jan 8th, 2018 2:52 PM
The families of the missing Korean ship MV Stellar Daisy call for finding the black box, full disclosure and proper health and safety protection for all seafarers
sm_stellar_daisy_missing_seafarers.jpg
original image (664x960)
Appeal From The Families Of The Korean MV Stellar Daisy For Finding the Black Box, Full Disclosure And Proper Health And Safety Protection For Seafarers
[the families of MV stellar daisy] 스텔라데이지호

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZU3OoboXnw&feature=youtu.be

Published on Jan 8, 2018
We look forward to your solidarity.

[Korean Families of the Missing Crewmen of MV Stellar Daisy]

https://stellardaisy.weebly.com/

Progressive Korea
https://www.facebook.com/Progressive-Korea-1509062576069743/

Campaign concerning the disaster of the MV Stellar Daisy, a South Korean ore carrier.-Support Needed

The South Korean ore carrier, MV Stellar Daisy, sank in the South Atlantic Ocean, between Brazil and Uruguay, on March 31 2017.

Two Philippine sailors were rescued, however, 22 crew members (8 Korean and 14 Philippine sailors) are still missing. We suspect they are on a life raft designed for 16 people, and there is still a chance they may be alive, due to their professional emergency training, fishing kits, and survival gear.

After the sinking of the ship, the Uruguay MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre)conducted basic search and rescue missions, but only a limited area was covered. The U.S. Navy also joined the air search, but, on four occasions. We are hopeful survivors will be found, yet we must profess profound disappointment at the assistance offered to date by all parties involved.

In addition, we are also concerned about the safety of other sailors employed by the Korean Polaris Shipping company. The maximum life of a carrier is typically 20 years, yet 17 ships in this fleet are up to 25 years old, which makes them dangerously outdated.

Working conditions on these "Floating Coffins" are horrible. The crew barely have time to eat and sleep, and the internet service on board was cut off by the company, which leaves crew members isolated from the outside world. The sinking of the MV Stellar Daisy has the first accident on the 52 converted carriers currently on the world's oceans. Unfortunately, given the conditions and their age, we fear it will not be the last.

Please help us with this difficult situation.

We call on:
The South Korean government, to uphold its duty to protect the lives of its citizens by resuming the search & rescue mission for the missing crew members as soon as possible, and to conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of the disaster and punish those responsible.
The U.S. government, to respect the rights of the affected families, by investigating the facts about their loved ones and disclose to the families all information, including photos and videos so far attained, especially concerning the possibility of the unaccounted life raft; first sighted by the U.S. Navy.
International organizations, to work closely to impose stricter safety regulations, to prevent future accidents occurring on these outdated carriers.
International labor unions, to collaborate in a united effort to improve overall working conditions of maritime crew.

Sincerely,
The Korean Families of the missing crewmen of the MV Stellar Daisy

*For further inquiries on this campaign, please contact us at stellardaisy2017(at)gmail.com

--
https://stellardaisy.weebly.com/

Progressive Korea
https://www.facebook.com/Progressive-Korea-1509062576069743/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZU3OoboXn...

Tags: MV Stellar Daisy Sinkinghealth and safetymissing crew of ship
Categories: Labor News

Other Countries Have High-Speed Trains. We Have Deadly Accidents and Crumbling Infrastructure

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 08:49

Other Countries Have High-Speed Trains. We Have Deadly Accidents and Crumbling Infrastructure

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43143-other-countries-have-high-speed...

Mike Ludwig
Emegency crews work at the scene of a Amtrak train derailment on December 18, 2017 in DuPont, Washington. At least six people were killed when a passenger train car plunged from the bridge. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)Emegency crews work at the scene of a Amtrak train derailment on December 18, 2017, in DuPont, Washington. (Photo: Stephen Brashear / Getty Images)

Japan's high-speed bullet train system carries 1 million riders every day and has a remarkable safety record, at least compared to passenger trains in the United States. Passengers have taken billions of rides on Japanese bullet trains since the system was established 50 years ago, but not one passenger has died due to a derailment or collision.

In the US commuters and travelers use trains less than the Japanese, but US passenger train lines have suffered five major wrecks that killed or injured passengers over the past decade, including the recent derailment of an Amtrak passenger train that killed three people and injured more than 50 others in DuPont, Washington on December 18. Among the dead were two active members of the Rail Passengers Association, a group that pushes for greater access to passenger rail services.

A "constellation of factors" contributed to this spate of deadly train accidents, including train companies' habit of cutting corners to save money and a national failure to fund railroad and transportation infrastructure, according to Railroad Workers United, a national union representing railroad workers.

President Trump has used the DuPont crash to tout an infrastructure proposal due out later this month. However, critics say Trump's plan would leave struggling state and local government on the hook for repairing crumbling roads, bridges and railroads as Congress looks for ways to pay for the GOP tax cut package that Trump signed into law last month.

US Railroads -- Underfunded and Unsafe

Railroads around the world have made significant advances in safety, efficiency and infrastructure over the past century, and passengers in Japan, Europe and beyond enjoy affordable, high-speed transportation between many major cities. This is not the case in the US, where high-speed rail service is limited in most parts of the country. Most US railroads still operate on gradients laid in the 19th century that are "full of curvature, steep grades and other impediments to safe and efficient operation," according to Railroad Workers United.

"When upgrades are made, they are often inadequately funded, leading to unsafe conditions for employees, passengers and those living trackside," the union said in a collective statement released on Wednesday. "Unless and until this nation can make a commitment to advancing modern passenger train transportation through adequate and necessary funding, we will continue to lag behind the rest of the world, and continue to suffer tragedies like the one in Dupont, WA."

The deadly derailment of Amtrak Train 501 in DuPont occurred at a sharp curve in the track that state officials have hoped to restructure as part of an effort to expand high-speed rail to the Seattle region, according to The Seattle Times. However, adequate funding for rail infrastructure projects has not surfaced in Washington State, and the Times recently called the curve "a symbol of unsteady political support in the United States for rapid-rail infrastructure."

"The tragedy in Washington State highlights what everyone already knows, that so much of America's infrastructure is teetering on the edge of disaster," said Donald Cohen, director of the public services policy group In the Public Interest, in an email to Truthout.

The government's investigation of the accident is ongoing, but an initial review by the National Transportation and Safety Board found that the conductor of the Amtrak train hit the curve at a much higher speed than he was supposed to. The accident occurred during the first day of higher-speed service on the line, and Amtrak workers and their unions have expressed concern that operators were not properly trained during nighttime trial runs prior to the change.

John Risch, the legislative director for the SMART Transportation Division, a union of engineers and train technicians, said US railroad companies "do not require training like they should" due to cost-cutting measures.

"Time and time again we have urged the railroads to allow more training trips before they go out, and they will say one or two trips is enough," Risch said in a statement. "It's a cost issue.... That's something that has been a problem."

Railroad Workers United points out that all five major train wrecks in the past decade occurred with only one trained engineer controlling the main cab of the locomotive. (There were two engineers in the cab during the DuPont crash, but only one was trained on the route, and was in the process of training the other for future runs.) The union has long advocated that two qualified engineers be present on every train, as is the case for commercial airliners, which are required to have two pilots in the cockpit.

However, train companies have pushed back on these demands, citing the costs of hiring extra workers. They have also dragged their feet on installing automated braking technology mandated by Congress after a major crash in 2008. Congress extended the deadline for installing the technology from 2015 to the end of 2018 after train operators threatened to shut down the rail system in 2015.

Railroad Workers United said the automated braking technology, known as Positive Train Control, has been around for a century and could have prevented several deadly wrecks, including the crash in DuPont. In the past, Positive Train Control protected thousands of miles of mainline train tracks, but the union said railroad companies have largely dismantled this infrastructure to save money "while government regulators turned a blind eye."

"As rank and file railroad workers, we experience day-in-and-day-out the carriers' cynical view of safety, the push for profit, the demand for increased stock prices, the budget cutting, the recklessness and the total disregard for workers' lives," the union said. "This is why Train 501 wrecked."

All Eyes on Trump's Infrastructure Proposal

This most recent railroad accident has renewed calls for federal investment in transportation and other infrastructure, including from President Trump, who released this tweet shortly after the DuPont crash:

The train accident that just occurred in DuPont, WA shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly. Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble! Not for long!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 10:41 AM - Dec 18, 2017
Of course, the Trump administration has done nothing to scale back US involvement in expensive and bloody military entanglements in the Middle East, and Trump recently authorized a massive $700 billion defense budget. In contrast, the White House's 2018 budget proposed cutting programs that fund transportation services and infrastructure by $1.7 billion, including $630 million in cuts to Amtrak alone.

Trump campaigned on promises to rebuild crumbling roads, bridges, railroads and other infrastructure in the US, but his administration's first attempt at rolling out an infrastructure proposal last year failed to generate any excitement in the media or Congress.

The Trump administration's $1 trillion infrastructure blueprint released last spring only includes $200 billion in actual government spending, with the rest coming from unnamed private investors incentivized by a "mixture of loans and grants" and Trump's deregulatory agenda. Other ideas proposed in the plan include allowing more tolls on interstate highways and opening roadside rest areas to private investment.

The White House has promised to release a more detailed infrastructure proposal by the end of January. However, it's still a $1 trillion plan -- about half of what the American Society of Civil Engineers says is needed to fix the nation's infrastructure -- and preliminary reports indicate it would still only allocate $200 billion in federal spending. The remaining $800 billion would be shifted to state and local governments, forcing them to make difficult deals with private companies.

"The hard truth is that we need nothing short of a Marshall Plan level of direct federal investment in our roads, bridges, broadband, and transit and water systems," Cohen said. "What we know of Trump's infrastructure plans is that he wants to do just the opposite and put more burden on city and state governments, essentially forcing them to sell off or lease our infrastructure to Wall Street and global corporations."

Cohen and other critics say Trump should have put "America first" and rolled out a robust infrastructure funding package before signing the GOP tax bill, which gives tax breaks to the rich and adds $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years. Republicans in Congress are already eyeing cuts to domestic safety net and health care programs to pay for the tax package, which largely benefits corporations and the wealthy.

Meanwhile, the deficit created by the tax package coupled with Congress's self-imposed spending limits could force deep cuts to the trust funds that support railroad workers who are laid off or miss work due to illness, according to the SMART Transportation Division. As the rash of recent rail accidents suggests, this is a workforce that is already stretched too thin.

Tags: high speed trainsinfrastructure
Categories: Labor News

Corrupt ANC Leads To Death On SA Rails

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 22:15

Train Crash Near Kroonstad, South Africa, Kills at Least 18
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/04/world/africa/south-africa-train-crash...

By KIMON de GREEF
JAN. 4, 2018

Continue reading the main storyShare This Page

CAPE TOWN — A passenger train burst into flames on Thursday after striking two vehicles at a crossing in a remote part of central South Africa, killing at least 18 people and injuring more than 260, the authorities said.
Mondli Mvambi, a spokesman for the provincial health department, said that a truck driver had miscalculated the train’s speed and tried to dash across the tracks at the crossing, just outside the town of Kroonstad, and that a passenger vehicle had also been involved.

“The death toll may rise,” Mr. Mvambi said. “Three burned carriages are yet to be lifted to check if anyone is trapped inside. It can take 36 hours. Rescuers are working as fast as they can.”

The national transport minister, Joe Maswanganyi, told news outlets that the truck driver had been taken to the hospital. “We are going to do a blood test to verify if he was sober or not,” Mr. Maswanganyi said.

Mr. Mvambi said the truck driver, though injured, had tried to run away after the accident but had been apprehended by the police and escorted to the hospital.

An injured passenger receiving attention at the scene of the crash near Kroonstad, South Africa.CreditAssociated Press
The train, operated by the state-owned Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, or Prasa, was carrying passengers home to Gauteng, the northern province that contains the city of Johannesburg, from the east coast after the summer holidays, a time when migrant workers traditionally return to their family homesteads in rural parts of the country.

Wealthier travelers can book private sleeper cubicles, but most passengers ride in seated rows near the front of the train. That section violently derailed after this morning’s collision.

Tiaan Esterhuizen, 32, a telecommunications engineer with Afriforum, a group that advocates for the country’s white Afrikaner minority, was traveling with his extended family — 13 people in total, ranging from 5 months to 83 years old — when the crash occurred. He said he was making the journey by train for the first time, after a colleague was killed in a car accident during the holiday season last year. “We thought it would be the safer route,” he said.

Shortly after 9 a.m., while finishing breakfast in the dining car, Mr. Esterhuizen said, he “heard a big bang, followed by second big bang, then heard and felt the train derailing.” He said he sent out a plea for help on Twitter and joined a frantic rescue effort involving local farmers and, later, the authorities.

After evacuating his family, Mr. Esterhuizen said, he ran toward the front of the train, where he counted at least 12 derailed carriages. Several were already burning fiercely, spewing clouds of black smoke. Three women, trapped inside one of the cars, were crying for help, and Mr. Esterhuizen clambered over wreckage to reach them.

Rescue workers inspecting wrecked parts of the train on Thursday. CreditEr24Ems, via European Pressphoto Agency
Someone shattered the windows with a fire extinguisher, but the women, crushed by their seats, could not be freed, he said. One repeatedly screamed that her baby was stuck somewhere beneath her. Another woman lay quietly as the flames drew nearer.

Ten minutes later, the entire carriage was alight, chasing the rescuers back. “Those women must have died,” Mr. Esterhuizen said. “We didn’t find the baby, either. It’s been very traumatic.”

Another passenger, Seipati Moletsane, told ENCA, a television station: “There was a truck coming from the left. He didn’t stop at the cross line. The train was coming. It collided with the truck. In the first and second coach there were people injured.”

The Railway Safety Regulator of South Africa, a government agency, says that 495 people died in train accidents in South Africa last year, with 2,079 injured — almost six daily.

Last year, 87 accidents occurred at level crossings. Since 2010, South African railways have experienced, on average, a “railway incident” — including collisions, derailments, fires and electric shocks — every 16 minutes.

By The New York Times
Mthuthuzeli Swartz, the acting chief executive of Prasa, told local news outlets that 18 people died in the collision on Thursday, a figure that could not be confirmed by the provincial health authorities.

The crash appeared to be the deadliest since 2012, when the driver of a truck carrying farmworkers collided with a train at a crossing in Mpumalanga, a province in northeastern South Africa, killing 26 workers.

“The vexing question is why this frequency of railway occurrences remains so consistently high despite all the grand efforts of the R.S.R. and the licensed operators to reduce them,” according to the agency’s most recent State of Safety report, published last year.

A spokeswoman for the agency, Madelein Williams, said it had dispatched inspectors to Kroonstad and would release a report on the latest crash within 24 hours.

Russel Meiring, a spokesman for ER24 Emergency Medical Services, a private rescue provider, said that South Africa had seen some train collisions caused by incorrect markings at crossings, but that the problem was more often people taking a chance and thinking they could beat the train.

“These things move faster than they appear,” he said. “Some take more than a kilometer to slow down. Vehicles will always come off second best.”

Prasa has been embroiled in a series of corruption cases in the past decade, including a decision in 2013 to award a dubious contract, worth more than $300 million, for a new fleet of trains that exceeded the maximum height limit of South Africa’s railways. A high court judgment last year ruled the decision “criminal.”

Tags: train wreckSouth AfricaANC
Categories: Labor News

Hunter Harrison's Canadian Pacific Railway: "What a way to Run a railroad”

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 18:36

Hunter Harrison's Canadian Pacific Railway: "What a way to Run a railroad”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmPm6Fpd0ic

Tags: Rail safetyHunter Harrison's Canadian Pacific
Categories: Labor News

Canadian Rail Workers Harding & Labrie Are Not Guilty! Drop The Charges NOW!

Thu, 01/04/2018 - 18:42

Canadian Rail Workers Harding & Labrie Are Not Guilty! Drop The Charges NOW!
https://youtu.be/bFawXtH2C-k
A solidarity rally was held at the San Francisco Canadian Consulate to demand that charges be dropped against MMA USW union railroad workers Tom Harding and Richard Labrie for the deaths of 47 people in the Lac-Mégantic train wreck. The 47 car train was only manned by one worker and the evidence at the trial has shown that there were not proper safety measures in place. The company and the Canadian government according to speakers is now scapegoating the workers. The Canadian government liked the US government has pushed deregulation and 1 person crews being pushed by the rail owners and the speakers charged this was the real reason for this and other disasters.
There were also support actions on January 4, 2018 in Chicago, Seattle, DC and in Sao Paulo, Brazil at Canadian consulates and embassies.
The speakers also discussed the growing rail wrecks and dangerous transportation system in the United States and this was connected to similar efforts to downsize the staffing of the trains and deregulation. Speakers included trade unionists from SMART Local 1741 SF Bus Drivers, SEIU 1021 Social And Economic Justice Committee and members of Railroad Workers United RWU and Workers Solidarity Action Network WSAN. Environmental activists also attended and spoke.
Additional media:
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio/ww12-26-17-campaign-for-railroad-w...
For further information on the case:
Harding Defense Committee
http://hardingdefense.org
Railroad Workers United
www.railroadworkersunited.org
Workers Solidarity Action Network
www.workerssolidarityactionnetwork.org
Production of Labor Video Project
www.laborvideo.org

Tags: Canadian railway workersHarding & Labrie Are Not Guilty!
Categories: Labor News

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