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Spanish Dockworkers Strike in Defense of Jobs & Dockworkers: the “can do” of the working class

Sun, 06/18/2017 - 20:59

Spanish Dockworkers Strike in Defense of Jobs & Dockworkers: the “can do” of the working class
Spanish Dockworkers Strike in Defense of Jobs
http://www.leftvoice.org/Spanish-Dockworkers-Strike-in-Defense-of-Jobs
On June 5, Spanish dockworkers began the first of a series of strikes that will see eight days of strike action over three weeks. These strikes have been called in response to the conservative government’s new Royal Decree Law that targets the country’s port labor system, and the stevedoring companies’ refusal to protect the jobs of 6,150 currently employed dockers.
Sean Robertson
June 10, 2017
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The jobs of over six thousand Spanish dockers are now in jeopardy. The conservative Partido Popular (People’s Party) government has succeeded in getting its new Royal Decree Law, which targets the country’s port labor system, approved by the Spanish parliament. This legal victory has given stevedoring companies the upper hand in their efforts to liberalize the port labor system. All this has left Spanish dockers with little option but to take strike action in order to defend their jobs.

Spanish dockworkers’ unions struck on June 5, 7 and 9. These strikes follow a traditional pattern on the Spanish docks, where strikes take place on Monday, Wednesday and Friday on alternating hours across a 24-hour period, that is, one hour working, then one hour where work stops and so on. Next week will see a 48-hour strike from June 14 to 16. The strikes on June 19, 21 and 23 will follow the same hour on / hour off pattern as those in the first week.

Over the last few months, Spanish dockers’ unions have repeatedly announced numerous planned strikes, only to call them off in a show of “good faith” to parliamentary legislators and company negotiators. However, both the conservative government’s definitive legal victory and the port employers’ pigheadedness would suggest that this tactic has run its course.

Conservative legal victory

After much difficulty, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his conservative Partido Popular government have succeeded in getting their anti-docker Royal Decree Law approved in the Spanish parliament.

The government’s first attempt to have these laws approved was blocked by the Spanish Congress of Deputies on March 16. Threats by dockers’ unions to exercise their industrial muscle saw parliament reject the original decree law by 175 votes against, 142 in favor and 33 abstentions.

For more on this, see: “Dockworkers: the “can do” of the working class”.

Nevertheless, the tables were turned just two months later. On May 18, a modified version of the government’s legislation was approved by 174 votes in favor to 165 against with eight abstentions. The center-right parties of Ciudadanos (Citizens), the Basque Nationalist Party and the Catalan European Democratic Party who had previously either abstained or voted against now sided with the government.

For the conservative Partido Popular administration, this parliamentary victory means two things. Not only does it bring to an end the continually accruing fines that the EU has imposed on the Spanish government but more importantly, it guarantees the phasing out of the current hiring hall-style labor system which Spanish dockers have worked under for decades.

Under the current system, all dockworkers belong to the Port Stevedores Management Company, known by its Spanish acronym SAGEP, similar to the hiring halls of longshore workers in the United States. The European Court of Justice has ruled that this system does not abide by EU regulations, and in July 2016 fined the Spanish government 15.6 million euro plus additional daily fines of 134,000 euro for every day that the system remained in place. The government’s May 18 decree law meets EU requirements and brings the accumulating EU-imposed fines, now almost 25 million Euro to an end.

For more on the SAGEP system and the ECJ rulings see: “Over Six Thousand Spanish Dockworkers’ Jobs Face the Axe”.

Iñigo de la Serna, the Minister of Public Works and Transport behind the decree law claims that it “guarantees employment for dockworkers”. Yet in the next breath he stresses that the “European Commission does not allow” for “subrogación,” agreements that guarantee all existing dockworkers’ jobs and working conditions, which is the central demand of the dockworkers’ unions. Dockworkers’ unions argue that these new laws go much further than was needed to comply with the EU requirements and now pose a dire threat to the jobs of 6,150 currently employed dockers.

Royal Decree Law

The Partido Popular’s new Royal Decree Law all but guarantees the extinction of the SAGEP port labor system. After a three year transitional period ending in May 2020, SAGEPs will lose their previous monopoly on the supply of port labor; stevedoring companies will no longer be legally obliged to take part in them; and individual SAGEPs will have to seek legal authorization to continue operating. Port employers will also be able to undertake direct company employment and hire labor from other sources if they so wish.

These laws do however allow for the creation of Port Employment Centers or CPE in Spanish, which could potentially play the same role as SAGEPs. But there will be no legal obligation for stevedoring companies to belong to them, and like SAGEPs in three year’s time, CPEs will also have to seek legal authorization before being established. Every existing SAGEP and CPE in three year’s time will also fall under the provisions that regulate temporary employment agencies. While these allow for fixed contract and indefinite employment, they also open the door to sweeping casualization across the industry.

These new laws also commit 120 million euros to the funding of an early retirement scheme. Dockers within five years of the legal retirement age (currently at 65) will be eligible to receive monthly payments of 70 percent of the average earned over the previous six months, which will increase in line with rises in state pensions and end once dockers hit the legal retirement age and are eligible for regular state pensions.

One of the few positives in the new laws is that they allow for either a state-sponsored accord or collective bargaining agreement to provide for subrogación, the rollover of all existing jobs and conditions.

Negotiations break down

Just days after the new decree laws were adopted, representatives of the stevedoring companies and dockers’ unions met on May 22 and drew up an in principle agreement. The port employers’ organization ANESCO (National Association of Stevedoring Companies and Ship Consignees) agreed to a guarantee of all existing jobs. In return, dockers’ unions agreed to a ten percent reduction in gross monthly salaries to 2,230 euros and further negotiations on shift changes and work organization in order to increase productivity. Unions have previously offered to accept a six percent pay cut just a week after the Royal Decree Law was first rejected back in March.

However, negotiations broke down at the next meeting on June 1. According to the dockers’ unions, the employers were now “giving contradictory signals with regards to the future of jobs in the sector” and proposing separate port-by-port negotiations instead of a national agreement.

It was after this breakdown in negotiations that dockers’ unions confirmed that the previously called strikes for June 5, 7 and 9 would go ahead, and further strike action on June 14-16, 19, 21 and 23 would also take place.

Solidarity with the Spanish dockworkers

Leaders of the different dockworkers’ unions (CETM, UGT, CC.OO, CIG and CGT)* have made it clear that their primary objectives are maintaining all current dockworker jobs, getting all port employers into the Port Employment Centers and converting these into a SAGEP-style system.

Spanish dockers’ unions certainly have plenty of industrial leverage with which to win these demands. As outlined previously in Left Voice, Spanish ports are a strategic sector of the Spanish economy, with over half of all Spain’s exports and nearly 80 percent its imports moving through them.

Along with their own industrial leverage, Spanish dockworkers will also need practical international solidarity from other dockworkers, especially their European and North African counterparts. Already dockers’ unions in Portugal, France and Italy have refused to handle any cargo diverted from Spain.

But the best chance of victory will arise with a fighting movement that unites Spanish dockers with all those currently struggling against Mariano Rajoy and his conservative government. For instance, Spanish taxi drivers have just held their own strikes along with a 20,000-strong demonstration on May 30, while campaigners for public education held a sector-wide strike on March 9 and demonstrations as recently as June 6. A movement that unites these forces not only has a better chance of victory, but it also has the potential to topple the minority conservative government.

More immediately, Spanish dockers need to take into account the disturbing signs coming from their own union leaders. For one, there is the tactic of repeatedly announcing and then calling off strikes over the last three months. After not having called one day of strike action since 2006, such a repeated on again, off again approach can only have a corrosive effect of dockers’ morale. Even more worrying is the willingness of Spanish dock union leaders to offer up pay cuts – first six percent and now ten percent - in exchange for a guarantee on jobs. “Watch your leaders”, the catch cry first popularized by British Communists in the early 1920s, appears to be just as applicable today as it was almost one hundred years ago.

For months now Spanish dockers have been chanting ¡Ni un paso atrás! (Not one step back!). In order to make this slogan a reality, Spanish dockers will need to use their potential to paralyze the Spanish economy and enlist the support of other Spanish workers and dockworkers from neighboring countries. They will also need to keep an eye on union leaders who have shown themselves too willing to concede unwarranted concessions to the port employers.

* CETM / La Coordinadora – Coordinadora Estatal de Trabajadores del Mar (State-wide Coordinating Committee of Maritime Workers), the main dockworkers’ union covering 80 percent of Spanish dockers.
UGT - Unión General de Trabajadores (General Workers’ Union), aligned with the Spanish Socialist Party, the PSOE).
CC. OO. - Comisiones Obreras (Workers’ Commissions), historically linked to the Communist Party of Spain, the PCE.
CIG - Confederación Intersindical Galega (Galician Inter-union Federation), a radical nationalist union federation
CGT - Confederación General del Trabajo (General Confederation of Labour), anarcho-syndicalist.

SPANISH STATE
Dockworkers: the “can do” of the working class
http://www.leftvoice.org/Dockworkers-the-can-do-of-the-working-class
What can the victory of the Spanish dockworkers teach us? That class struggle is the way to twist the arm of the government, the European Union (EU) and the way to make the capitalists pay for the crisis.
Santiago Lupe
April 11, 2017
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Editor’s note - March 16 saw the Spanish parliament vote against the Royal Decree Law that sought to scrap the country’s port labor system. The decree put forward by the conservative Partido Popular (PP - People’s Party) government was voted down - 175 votes against, 142 in favor and 33 abstentions. Crucially, 32 of these abstentions came from the center-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) party that helps to prop up the minority Partido Popular government. This vote is the first time in nearly four decades that a royal decree has been rejected by the Spanish parliament.

The simple threat of a strike was enough to ensure the overturning of the anti-worker Royal Decree Law drawn up by conservative leader Mariano Rajoy. The “no” vote was not just a blow for the current Partido Popular government but also for the EU Court of Justice and its threat of sanctions.

One of the most concentrated, unionized and coordinated sectors of the labor movement has flexed its “muscle”, which this time round was enough to stop the parties of the post-Franco regime from voting for the “national interest” as they have done in the past. The threat of a strike was not only to have economical consequences - an estimated potential loss of 50 million Euros a day - but also political consequences. The flexing of this political “muscle” raised the specter of a big labor dispute taking center stage in Spain, one that could potentially recreate the solidarity and militancy of the Spanish coal miners’ dispute of 2012 and direct this at all those who voted “yes”. This is a scenario that the social-democratic Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE - Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party) fears as it enters its worst crisis in recent history.

If anything, what this demonstrates is that - despite all the skepticism about social mobilization and all the illusions in “storming heaven” through institutional means – determined class struggle is the way to defeat a government and the European institutions which shield its anti-labor policies. But not only that, it is also the way to open up the opportunity to bring the “democracy of the IBEX35” (the Spanish stock exchange) to an end and impose a program that makes the capitalists pay for the crisis.

As the media have pointed out, parliament’s rejection of the Royal Decree Law is historic. It has only happened twice since 1979, and one of these was by accident. Not only that, but among the “no” voters were key social-democratic PSOE deputies. These deputies belong to the same “socialist” party that, under pressure from the European Union (EU) and the financial markets, amended Article 135 of the Spanish Constitution in 2011 to ensure budget stability; that introduced a series of austerity measures in 2010 at the behest of the ‘Troika’ of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund; that implemented the industrial reconversion process in the 1980s that closed down and sold off much of the country’s state-owned enterprises at the EU’s request ... if anyone knows anything about offloading economic crisis onto the strategic sectors of the labor movement, it is the “socialists” of the PSOE. Nevertheless, the dockworkers have taken advantage of the current crisis affecting this political pillar of the regime and shown that they could twist its arm and force it to vote “no”.

There is no doubt that the attacks on the dockworkers are far from over. Now the “cavalry” will come from the EU capital of Brussels; the media campaign against these so-called “privileged workers” will start again ... and the last word has not been spoken. Nevertheless, there are some interesting lessons that can be drawn from this first victory that go well beyond just the dockworkers.

Since 2014 we have seen the imposition of a new “common sense”, one that has been fueled by the rise of the neo-reformism of political parties such as Podemos (We Can), one that suggests that social mobilization is incapable of finishing off a rotten regime and the policies it uses to unload the crisis onto the majority of the population. This new “common sense” suggests that the key is to take the movement off the streets and into the electoral arena. Through these electoral projects, these forces would fight for social, political and economic reform with the idea of taking hold of government institutions and using them to make social change.

After nearly three years, the growth of various parliamentary groups for “change”, beginning with the 71 Congress deputies of Unidos Podemos (United We Can) and its allies*, has seen these forces take hold of a number of important municipalities and legislative bodies. However, their political practice is very different from what has been promised. In the municipalities of “change”, government debt is paid religiously, demands such as remunicipalización (taking previously privatized entities back into public hands) are abandoned and either their minority status or the existing legal framework is used to justify their refusal to take effective measures to end unemployment, evictions or energy poverty. In the Congress and the regional parliaments, they allow themselves to make very left-wing speeches and come out in support of existing mobilizations such as those of the dockworkers, but they do not propose one single measure of struggle or organization that would help to implement concrete measures against major social problems.

The dockworkers have shown us that just flexing their “muscle”, without even having to put their fighting ability into action has, to date, managed to overcome both the problem of the parliamentary majority - 268 of the 350 deputies are from neoliberal formations that have turned obedience to the EU into a dogma - and the threats from Brussels. It has not been the threat of strike action alone that has achieved this, for the division among the employers and especially the conditions of open crisis in the regime and its political agents have undoubtedly played a role. But this critical situation is not an exceptional one, for it has in fact been the norm since 2011. What dockworkers have demonstrated is that there is another way to occupy the electoral space.

You have to wonder about what we could achieve if the reformist left, which speaks of “change” and even of “returning to the streets”, started demanding that trade union leaders end their criminal policies of compromise and social peace? What could we impose on the parties of the regime if the reformist left took advantage of their positions and called for the organization and mobilization of workers, young people and women?

Examples arise by the dozen. The municipalities of “change” say that they cannot take privatized firms back into public hands because they are in a minority, or that if they generate quality public employment, then Partido Popular Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro will audit them. Both things are as true as the fact that the EU Court of Justice will sanction the Spanish government if Rajoy cannot get his ‘reforms’ to the port labor system approved. Then what should be done? Resign yourself as local mayors for change such as Manuela Carmena (Madrid), Ada Colau (Barcelona), Pedro Santiesteve (Zaragoza) and José María “Kichi” González (Cádiz) have done? Or, on the contrary, prepare a great movement that fights to impose its demands on the politicians that serve big business and their courts, just like the dockworkers have done?

The same can be said of the parliamentary work of Podemos. As Pablo Iglesias himself says, in the Courts you can draw up little more than proposals that do not become law. But why is it that in over one year as a deputy, he has not called for a mobilization, or an assembly, or demanded that the union bureaucracy moves a finger ... for an increase in the official minimum wage, for the repeal of various labor ‘reforms’ or the nationalization of the criminal energy sector?

The dockworkers have shown us what they think of the new “common sense”, fueled as it is by the reformism of “change” that tells us that we cannot aspire – “because it is one thing to form government and another to have power”, “because I am only going to promise what I can get, in agreement with the PSOE and existing legality”. This “common sense” can be quickly surpassed once the road of social mobilization is returned to, with workers on the front foot and consistently defending the only realistic program to solve the great social problems: one that directly affects the profits and interests of the capitalists.

The most important conclusion that those moved by the victory of the dockworkers can draw is that the whole working class “has to do it like them. Our class has to learn how to flex its “muscle” and set it in motion a massive movement of workers together with young people, women and immigrants... in order to end unemployment by imposing the distribution of working hours with no reduction in wages, at the expense of the record profits being made by large corporations; by demanding the nationalization of banking and large strategic companies such as electricity providers under workers’ control; by refusing to pay all government debt; and by taxing large fortunes in order to guarantee good education, universal health and public services, among other urgent and fundamental measures.

The dockers’ victory is a victory for the whole working class against the precariousness of work. It is necessary to use this victory as a launching pad. They are going to keep attacking the dockworkers in order to try to break them, so for that reason we need to close ranks and surround them with our solidarity. At the same time, we must demand that if the trade union bureaucracy and the ‘neo-reformists’ want their declarations in favor of the unemployed, the precariously employed and other workers to have some credibility, they must call assemblies in every workplace for the organizing of a real plan of struggle that imposes a working-class solution to the crisis.

Translation: Sean Robertson

This is a translation of an article which first appeared at the Spanish Izquierda Diario website

* Unidos Podemos (United We Can) is the left-wing coalition that contested the 2016 Spanish general election. It consists of Podemos (We Can); Izquierda Unida (United Left) which has the Communist Party of Spain at its core; the Green Party “Equo” and other smaller, mainly regional parties. In various regions, it ran under different names, such as En Comú Podem (In Common We Can) in Catalonia and En Marea (En Masse) in Galicia.

Tags: Spanish Dockworkers Strikeunion bustingderegulation
Categories: Labor News

Chicago CTA ATU 241 Bus Drivers Health and Safety Threatened-CTA Bosses Put Drivers In Danger

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 10:45

Chicago CTA ATU 241 Bus Drivers Health and Safety Threatened-CTA Bosses Put Drivers In Danger

Easy Targets: CTA bus drivers fend off spit, guns and frozen chickens

http://abc7chicago.com/news/easy-targets-cta-bus-drivers-fend-off-spit-g...

They have to keep their eyes peeled on the road ahead but an I-Team investigation of CTA incidents has found some bus drivers have an ongoing fear from the rear. (WLS)
By Chuck Goudie and Barb Markoff
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
CHICAGO (WLS) -- They have to keep their eyes peeled on the road ahead but an I-Team investigation of CTA incidents has found some bus drivers have an ongoing fear from the rear: unruly, violent passengers.

CTA passengers sometimes post video of violent bus events on social media.

Records we obtained show the stats: Chicago Transit Authority bus drivers who have needed medical attention in recent years after being attacked by bawdy passengers.

RAW DATA: CTA numbers behind the story from I-Team's Freedom of Information filing

Watch our main video report above, revealing the weapons of choice for raucous riders that seem to be whatever is handy: wads of spit, eggs, hot drinks or even frozen chicken that can become missiles when pitched at drivers.

Darryl Payne (left) and Kendall Henderson, both 19, were among those who were charged with attacking a CTA bus driver, in 2014.

CTA bus drivers describe some of the harrowing experiences they have had behind the wheel.

While passenger spit is the most cited attack method, there are also reported attacks on drivers with bona fide weapons including stun guns and firearms.

CTA officials say violence against drivers has been reduced by employee training, on-board panic buttons, security cameras and prosecutions of violent offenders.

The CTA control center where officials monitor calls for help from bus drivers in distress.

The transit agency maintains that attacks on drivers are rare.

Crimes against employees are down the past five years according to CTA spokesperson Tammy Chase who credits the transit agency's new communication system.

CTA bus drivers say they need more protection. A transit union official says drivers "have been trained to just stay in the seat and accept the abuse."

For more information about the Chicago Transit authority, visit www.transitchicago.com

For more information about the Amalgamated Transit Union, visit atu241chicago.org

Tags: CTAATU 241bus drivershealth and safetyworkers safety
Categories: Labor News

BA UNITE cabin crew call two-week strike in July over pay dispute

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 13:43

BA UNITE cabin crew call two-week strike in July over pay dispute
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/16/ba-cabin-crew-call-two-w...

Up to 2,000 staff will take industrial action after pay deal collapses over reprisals for staff who went on strike earlier in the year
Striking British Airways cabin crew demonstrate outside Glasgow airport in January
Striking British Airways cabin crew at Glasgow airport in January. Staff who took action earlier in the year were set to lose bonuses and travel perks in the new pay deal. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

31
Gwyn TophamTransport correspondent
Friday 16 June 2017 09.51 EDT
Cabin crew at British Airways are to strike for two weeks in July, in the longest walkout to date in an increasingly bitter dispute over pay.

Up to 2,000 members of BA’s mixed fleet, which employs mainly younger, recent recruits on inferior terms and conditions to most crew, will take renewed action after a pay deal foundered over reprisals for staff who went on strike.Members of the Unite union rejected a deal that included bonuses and travel perks being withheld from crew who had taken action earlier in the year.

Unite said they had called the action, which runs from 1 to 16 July, after the airline refused to accept the union’s final compromise position on the sanctioning of striking cabin crew.

The union said it would also “vigorously pursue” legal action against BA on behalf of 1,400 cabin crew who face sanctions. Unite accused BA of having formed a blacklist of striking crew.

A planned four-day strike that was due to start on Friday was suspended last week in an attempt to resolve the dispute through talks.

However, talks at the conciliation service Acas earlier this week failed to progress.

Unite’s assistant general secretary, Howard Beckett, said: “The refusal by British Airways bosses to meaningfully consider our compromise offer is deeply disappointing.

“A resolution to this long-running dispute was within the grasp of BA, but instead of grabbing that opportunity, bosses rebuffed it.

“Unite believes the divisive way British Airways has targeted striking members of cabin crew is unlawful and amounts to blacklisting.”

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“The airline should be under no illusion of Unite’s intent to pursue justice on behalf of its members all the way to the highest court in the land.”

Willie Walsh, the chief executive of BA’s parent company, IAG, told the Guardian before the strike announcement that the latest offer had been “a fair negotiation in the circumstances”.

He said: “The pay negotiations were complete, you reach an agreement, it gets rejected – I don’t think you can criticise us for that. It was a deal acceptable to the Unite union officials, they said they would recommend it. I’m happy that we reward our people in an appropriate way.”

A BA spokeswoman said: “As for previous periods when Unite called strikes of Mixed Fleet cabin crew, we will fly all our customers to their destinations.

“This proposed strike action is extreme and completely unnecessary. We had reached a deal on pay, which Unite agreed was acceptable. Unite has already confirmed it is pursuing the non-pay issues in this dispute through the courts.

“We urge Unite to let its members vote on the pay proposals.”

Crew have walked out for a total of 26 days to date, since the row erupted in January over what the union had branded “poverty pay”. So far, the airline has ridden out the action, and said that all booked passengers had travelled to their destinations regardless. However, a number of flights have been cancelled, and the airline has also chartered or “wet leased” planes and crew from other airlines such as Titan and Thomson Airways to continue operating services.

Pay at the fleet starts at a basic rate of just over £12,000, although the airline says that with flying pay and allowances most crew earn more than £21,000.

Tags: UniteBA cabin crewstrike
Categories: Labor News

Rigged, Forced into debt, worked past exhaustion. Left With Nothing & Working For Free LA Port Truckers

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 12:08

Rigged, Forced into debt, worked past exhaustion. Left With Nothing & Working For Free
LA Port Truckers
https://www.usatoday.com/pages/interactives/news/rigged-forced-into-debt...

By Brett Murphy
Photos by Omar Ornelas
June 16, 2017
Los Angeles — Samuel Talavera Jr. did everything his bosses asked.

Most days, the trucker would drive more than 16 hours straight hauling LG dishwashers and Kumho tires to warehouses around Los Angeles, on their way to retail stores nationwide.

He rarely went home to his family. At night, he crawled into the back of his cab and slept in the company parking lot.

For all of that, he took home as little as 67 cents a week.

Then, in October 2013, the truck he leased from his employer, QTS, broke down.

When Talavera could not afford repairs, the company fired him and seized the truck -- along with $78,000 he had paid towards owning it.

Talavera was a modern-day indentured servant. And there are hundreds, likely thousands more, still on the road, hauling containers for trucking companies that move goods for America’s most beloved retailers, from Costco to Target to Home Depot.

These port truckers -- many of them poor immigrants who speak little English -- are responsible for moving almost half of the nation’s container imports out of Los Angeles’ ports. They don't deliver goods to stores. Instead they drive them short distances to warehouses and rail yards, one small step on their journey to a store near you.

A yearlong investigation by the USA TODAY Network found that port trucking companies in southern California have spent the past decade forcing drivers to finance their own trucks by taking on debt they could not afford. Companies then used that debt as leverage to extract forced labor and trap drivers in jobs that left them destitute.

If a driver quit, the company seized his truck and kept everything he had paid towards owning it.

If drivers missed payments, or if they got sick or became too exhausted to go on, their companies fired them and kept everything. Then they turned around and leased the trucks to someone else.

Drivers who manage to hang on to their jobs sometimes end up owing money to their employers – essentially working for free. Reporters identified seven different companies that have told their employees they owe money at week’s end.

The USA TODAY Network pieced together accounts from more than 300 drivers, listened to hundreds of hours of sworn labor dispute testimony and reviewed contracts that have never been seen by the public.

Using the contracts, submitted as evidence in labor complaints, and shipping manifests, reporters matched the trucking companies with the most labor violations to dozens of retail brands, including Target, Hewlett-Packard, Home Depot, Hasbro, J.Crew, UPS, Goodyear, Costco, Ralph Lauren and more.

Among the findings:

Trucking companies force drivers to work against their will – up to 20 hours a day – by threatening to take their trucks and keep the money they paid toward buying them. Bosses create a culture of fear by firing drivers, suspending them without pay or reassigning them the lowest-paying routes.
To keep drivers working, managers at a few companies have physically barred them from going home. More than once, Marvin Figueroa returned from a full day’s work to find the gate to the parking lot locked and a manager ordering drivers back to work. “That was how they forced me to continue working,” he testified in a 2015 labor case. Truckers at two other companies have made similar claims.
Employers charge not just for truck leases but for a host of other expenses, including hundreds of dollars a month for insurance and diesel fuel. Some charge truckers a parking fee to use the company lot. One company, Fargo Trucking, charged $2 per week for the office toilet paper and other supplies.
Drivers at many companies say they had no choice but to break federal safety laws that limit truckers to 11 hours on the road each day. Drivers at Pacific 9 Transportation testified that their managers dispatched truckers up to 20 hours a day, then wouldn’t pay them until drivers falsified inspection reports that track hours. Hundreds of California port truckers have gotten into accidents, leading to more than 20 fatalities from 2013 to 2015, according to the USA TODAY Network's analysis of federal crash and port trade data.
Many drivers thought they were paying into their truck like a mortgage. Instead, when they lost their job, they discovered they also lost their truck, along with everything they’d paid toward it. Eddy Gonzalez took seven days off to care for his dying mother and then bury her. When he came back, his company fired him and kept the truck. For two years, Ho Lee was charged more than $1,600 a month for a truck lease. When he got ill and missed a week of work, he lost the truck and everything he’d paid.
Retailers could refuse to allow companies with labor violations to truck their goods. Instead they’ve let shipping and logistics contractors hire the lowest bidder, while lobbying on behalf of trucking companies in Sacramento and Washington D.C. Walmart, Target and dozens of other Fortune 500 companies have paid lobbyists up to $12.6 million to fight bills that would have held companies liable or given drivers a minimum wage and other protections that most U.S. workers already enjoy.

Left: Containers stack like windowless buildings on the dockyard at the Port of Long Beach. Right: Trucks line up outside the terminals at the Port of Los Angeles. The two adjacent ports account for almost half of the country's container imports.
This isn’t a case of a few bad trucking companies accused of mistreating a handful of workers.

Since 2010, at least 1,150 port truck drivers have filed claims in civil court or with the California Department of Industrial Relations’ enforcement arm, known as the labor commission.

Judges have sided with drivers in more than 97% of the cases heard, ruling time after time that port truckers in California can’t legally be classified as independent contractors. Instead, they are employees who, by law, must be paid minimum wage and can’t be charged for the equipment they use at work.

The rulings stop there. They do not address specific allegations of abuse by drivers, including whether trucking companies physically barred them from leaving work or ordered them to work past federal fatigue limits.

But allegations like those have been made in sworn testimony in hundreds of the cases, virtually all of which ended with trucking companies ordered to repay drivers for truck expenses and lost wages. The USA TODAY Network found that at least 140 trucking companies have been accused by at least one driver of shorting them of fair pay or using threats to squeeze them to work longer hours.

Prominent civil rights leader Julian Bond once called California port truckers the new black tenant farmers of the post-Civil War South. Sharecroppers from that era rented farmland to make their living and regularly fell into debt to their landlords. Widespread predatory practices made it nearly impossible for the farmers to climb out.

Through lease contracts, California’s port truckers face the same kinds of challenges in ways that experts say rarely happen in the U.S. today.

“I don’t know of anything even remotely like this,” said Stanford Law School Professor William Gould, former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board and one of the nation’s top labor experts.

“You’re working to get yourself out of the debt. You just don’t see anything like that.”

‘‘You’re working to get yourself out of the debt. You just don’t see anything like that.’’
Reporters tried to contact owners and managers at more than 30 trucking companies. Many did not respond or declined to comment.

Those willing to answer questions said they have never used truck leases as a way to mistreat drivers. Several insisted that truckers’ allegations have been manufactured as part of a union organizing campaign by the Teamsters. The union has for years helped drivers file labor complaints and lawsuits.

“I’m not going to say that there were no violations out there,” said Weston LaBar, executive director of the Harbor Trucking Association. But, he added, they were “unintentional,” the result of market pressures that threatened to bankrupt trucking companies.

LaBar said he wasn't aware of companies still drawing up leases as more trucks get paid off. But drivers all over the industry are still locked in contracts they signed years ago.

Some company owners said their lease-to-own programs were a favor to truckers who might otherwise have been out of work. And there are drivers who make it through the contract to own their trucks, something that’s grown more common with time and a rebounding economy. Drivers who can't make a living aren't working hard enough, many company executives say.

“Our owner very generously went out and purchased a fleet of clean trucks,” said Marc Koenig, a vice president at Performance Team, which has lost cases to 21 drivers at the California labor commission. “That’s what really frustrated our owner. He really reached out and helped these guys.”

Koenig answered questions while traveling to Massachusetts to meet with TJX, the $49-billion parent company of retailers T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods.

"We take these concerns very seriously at TJX," the company said in a statement, citing its vendor "code of conduct" that requires contractors on its supply chain to follow the law.

California’s port truckers make it possible for the Walmarts and Amazons of the world to function. Even so, most of the two dozen retail companies contacted by the USA TODAY Network declined to comment, some saying they had never heard of the rash of labor violations at their primary ports of entry.

Only Goodyear said it took immediate action. Spokesperson Keith Price said in a statement that the tire giant dropped Pacific 9 in 2015, “within two weeks” of California labor commission decisions in favor of dozens of drivers.

The few others that issued statements said it was not their responsibility to police the shipping industry. Retailers don't directly hire the truckers who move their goods at the pier. They generally hire large shipping or logistics firms that line up trucking companies through a maze of subcontractors.

‘‘Target doesn’t have anything to share here.’’
“We’re not trying to wash our hands of this issue,” said John Taylor, a spokesman for LG Electronics, “but it’s frankly far afield” and “really very disconnected from LG Electronics.”

When asked about labor violations by trucking companies in Target’s supply chain, spokeswoman Erika Winkels wrote: “Target doesn’t have anything to share here.”

JOSE JUAN RODRIGUEZ
Jose Juan Rodriguez lives with his family inside a small house by the freeway in Los Angeles' South Central neighborhood. His wife has stage three cancer and his son severe brain damage. He said he's six years into his five-year lease contract with Morgan Southern and he still doesn't own the truck. "I knew I was being enslaved with these contracts," Rodriguez said. "But I have to work."

Read Story
A Critical Change

For decades, short-haul truckers at the nation’s ports relied on cheap clunkers to move goods to nearby warehouses and rail yards.

With little up-front investment, drivers – most of them independent contractors who owned their own trucks – could make a decent living squeezing the last miles from dilapidated big rigs that weren’t suited for the open road.

In October 2008, that changed dramatically in southern California, home of the nation’s busiest ports, Los Angeles and Long Beach. State officials, fed up with deadly diesel fumes from 16,000 outdated trucks, ordered the entire fleet replaced with new, cleaner rigs.

Suddenly, this obscure but critical collection of trucking companies faced a $2.5 billion crossroads unlike anything experienced at other U.S. ports.

Instead of digging into their own pockets to undo the environmental mess they helped create, the companies found a way to push the cost onto individual drivers, who are paid by the number and kinds of containers they move, not by the hour.

There are 800 companies regularly operating at the LA ports. Almost all of them turned to some form of a lease-to-own model, some without thinking through the consequences, said industry consultant and lobbyist Alex Cherin.

REYES CASTELLANOS
Reyes Castellanos, 58, has gallstones and no health insurance, because he’s labeled an independent contractor instead of an employee. Near-constant pain causes him to wince repeatedly as he talks from the cab of his truck.

He keeps a giant thermos of coffee on the passenger seat. By his feet, a bottle he uses to avoid bathroom stops.

Money is tight and it’s not getting any better.

Castellanos‘ 2015 tax return shows that he grossed $94,000. But he took home just $21,000 after truck expenses, including the lease-to-own payment he makes to his employer every week

His wife told him to quit K&R Transportation and leave the truck behind. But Castellanos isn‘t sure what other work he could find.

“The truck is the only thing putting food on the table,” he told her.

“So we lost the house,” Castellanos said. “I lost the house.”

K&R Transportation‘s parent company, California Cartage, declined to comment.

Read Story
“Flying by the seat of their pants and making it up as they went along,” he said of the scramble to find trucks for drivers. “Ultimately what they were trying to do was survive in a business with very thin margins.”

Truckers at dozens of companies describe the same basic scene. They were handed a lease-to-own contract by their employer and given a choice: Sign immediately or be fired. Many drivers who spoke little English said managers gave them no time to seek legal advice or even an interpreter to read the contract.

It was "take it or leave it," according to Fidel Vasquez, a driver for Total Transportation who said he couldn’t read the contract because it was in English.

Jose Juan Rodriguez owned his own truck and drove primarily for Morgan Southern, where two dozen drivers have filed claims for back pay at the California labor commission and civil court. Like many drivers, Rodriguez said he didn’t understand what he was signing, but felt he had no choice.

His wife has stage three breast cancer and his adult son has severe brain damage requiring frequent doctor visits.

“Where do I sign?” Rodriguez recalled asking right away. “The only thing I had to worry about is work, because I have a family.”

One-sided contracts

The contracts work like sub-leases. Knowing drivers could not qualify for their own loans or leases, trucking companies arranged to finance their fleets. Then they had drivers sign up for individual trucks.

Drivers gave their old trucks – many of which they owned outright – to their company as a down payment. And just like that they were up to $100,000 in debt to their own employer. The same guys would have had a tough time qualifying for a Hyundai days earlier.

As far back as August 2008, a trucking finance firm warned Port of Long Beach board members that 40% of drivers were likely to default on truck leases. But no one stopped the deals, which place almost all of the financial risk onto the workers.

Drivers' names were not on the truck titles. And many contracts effectively barred drivers from using their truck to work for other companies.

The companies also retained the power to decide how much work to give their drivers. They decide who gets the easiest and most lucrative routes -- and who gets to work at all.

That leaves drivers in constant fear of upsetting managers, who can fire them for any reason, or simply stop sending them business, a process some call “starving” them out of the truck.

On a five-year lease, drivers could pay in for four years and 11 months. If they got sick, fell behind on the lease or were fired in the last month, they could lose everything – as if they had never paid a dime.

The USA TODAY Network reviewed more than a dozen lease-to-own contracts from companies, like this one from Pacific 9. They often give companies almost complete control over their drivers, who they labeled as independent contractors. More importantly, the contracts let the companies fire truckers at will, keeping both the truck and the payments that went into it. Contract
“The truck was never his,” one California labor commission hearing officer noted in a March, 2014 ruling. “And he has nothing to show for all the time and money he spent.”

It’s a lesson Leocadio Lopez learned the hard way.

A former house painter and father of two, Lopez lost all his money after pouring his savings into a truck at Total Transportation Services, where more than 80 drivers have said they were cheated out of fair pay or charged for equipment their employer should have covered.

Lopez had to borrow cash just to keep up with his bills. Christmas and birthdays came and went without gifts for his children. His family had to get groceries from food pantries.

After making payments for six years, about $700 a week for the lease and maintenance, he lost the truck and the tens of thousands of dollars he had scraped together to keep it.

“I cried,” Lopez told reporters, still incensed. “They do what they want and you can’t do anything.”

‘‘They do what they want and you can’t do anything.’’
Lopez was one of dozens of drivers who filed claims against Total Transportation between 2013 and 2014. Most of the men were pulled into a conference room one week by company president Vic La Rosa and fired, according to 24 sworn complaints filed with the NLRB.

“There are no rules,” one driver recalled La Rosa saying when he took the trucks. “No law or politicians will help you.”

La Rosa denied committing labor violations and said the sworn statements made by his former drivers are false.

“That’s not the way it went down,” he told reporters, declining to elaborate.

Without admitting guilt, La Rosa settled the drivers’ cases with the NLRB, paying $200,000 in fines and agreeing to rehire some of them as employees.

Rene Flores, an immigrant from El Salvador, drives from the Port of Long Beach to Arizona, resting only a few hours each night. Flores rarely gets to see his two sons, Napoleon and Jose, because he’s always on the road.

For years, Rene Flores regularly has driven 20 hours a day, six days a week, hauling pistachios and medical equipment into the desert from the Port of Long Beach.

“If I don’t work,” Flores says, “my kids will starve.”

He keeps a log book of fake hours in the glovebox and the real one hidden beneath his seat in case of a surprise inspection.

Flores rarely sees his two sons, because he spends his one day off trying to catch up on lost sleep.

“Of course they know,” he told reporters when asked if his managers realize how much he works. “But the company doesn’t care.”

Morgan Southern did not answer questions about drivers' claims. But spokesperson Robert Milane said in a statement, "We follow all DOT regulations and guidelines with respect to HOS (hours of service) and logs."

Like a driver's weekly check, their yearly take home pay plummets because of the truck costs. In 2015, Reyes Castellanos, who provides for his wife and mother-in-law, made about $20,000 after expenses. Reyes Castellanos' tax return
Drivers who signed up for leases watched their take-home pay plummet and often had no choice but to work longer hours.

After emigrating from Nicaragua in 1992, Samuel Talavera Jr. drove a truck at the Los Angeles harbor and made an honest living. Since 9/11, all truckers working at ports of entry must be legal residents.

Talavera bought his wife, Reyna, a house and took his daughters to Disneyland.

But everything changed in late 2010, when he went into the QTS warehouse and his boss told him he needed to trade in his truck and sign a lease-purchase contract.

For the next four years, he worked mind-numbing hours to pay the bills.

To save commuting time, he slept in his truck at work. To avoid bathroom breaks, he kept an empty two-liter bottle by his side. He became a ghost to his family.

Still, he had to drain his savings to survive.

A stack of weekly paychecks he keeps in a drawer at home shows his worst weeks. He grossed $1,970 on June 3, 2011, but it all went back to QTS. After the lease and other truck expenses, he took home $33.

On February 10, 2012, he took home $112 after expenses.

The next week, he made 67 cents.

Samuel Talavera’s disappearing paycheck
Deductions from his pay from QTS, INC., on Feb. 17, 2012

Initial amount $854.13
Insurance -$90
Lease -$250
Tires -$35
Registration -$65
Gas -$405.46
Remaining amount $0.67

Depending on how many containers they're able to move, drivers' pay can vary wildly. Some weeks they gross hundreds or even thousands, but take home a tiny fraction of that after the truck costs.Samuel Talavera's paycheck
Reyna got two office cleaning jobs and a third taking care of the elderly to try to make ends meet. Even so, when her father died, she couldn’t afford to fly home for the funeral.

Talavera was working so much, she said. “We didn’t understand why there was hardly any money left over.”

Through interviews and court records, reporters catalogued more than 120 drivers who say they regularly worked past exhaustion, 12 to 20 hours straight behind the wheel.

Federal law prohibits commercial truckers from driving more than 11 hours at a time, and they can’t work at all after 14 hours, until they have had 10 hours of rest. Government studies show that for every hour past 11 that someone drives, the chances of crashing increase exponentially.

Many drivers feel they have no choice but to take that risk.

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On bad weeks – when Flores hits traffic or gets assigned a low-paying delivery – he says he takes home $300 or less for 100 hours of work. That translates into $3 an hour, less than a third of what he could make washing dishes at California’s minimum wage.

ALFREDO ARAMBULA
Alfredo Arambula, a Mexican immigrant and former driver at K&R Transportation, told reporters he lost everything after breaking his foot on the job in 2013.

Foot surgery put him out of work for weeks and he fell behind on the lease payments for his truck. When the 76-year-old tried coming back, his job was gone.

“I was not allowed to enter the company,” said Arambula, still on crutches and still confused about what had happened.

He lives in a small house besides a parking lot in South Central Los Angeles. There are piles of junk strewn around the backyard.

Arambula doesn’t know what he’ll do for money now. He had paid almost $75,000 in truck lease payments, which ate into his savings over the years. As far as he knows, the truck is still at K&R, being driven by another trucker.

“They took everything,” he said.

Read Story
Drivers could quit and find new work. But many, like Flores, say they’ve stayed on hoping things would improve. Then they realized if they quit, they would lose thousands paid toward their truck. “They’re captive,” Teamsters’ international vice president Fred Potter said.

Truck payments can cut so deep into wages that drivers actually owe their employer come Friday.

“Working for free,” one driver called it in a court statement.

Paychecks read instead like weekly invoices: Faustino Denova, negative $9.64. Germen Merino, negative $92.50. Jose Covarrubias, negative $280.

For some truckers, the debt stacked up week after week, until they borrowed against their house or from friends, used their savings to pay it off or until their company fired them.

“The company didn't care whether I took a gallon of milk to my home or not,” one driver testified in a civil court case. “The company would take everything.”

‘‘The company would take everything.’’
Enough weeks like that put truckers into a hole they can’t escape.

Like many drivers, Talavera and his wife fell behind on their mortgage, and then stopped paying it altogether. They filed for bankruptcy to save their home.

James Kang, former president of the now-defunct QTS, declined to comment and then hung up on a reporter.

Eduardo Garcia, 57, was a truck driver for Tradelink Transport. He said he'd often come home after double shifts, only to find his boss in the parking lot, waving drivers back onto the road to keep working.

‘We are not human’

In ways that happen in virtually no other workplace in America, port trucking companies in Southern California wield enormous power over their workers.

Through interviews and a review of sworn statements, the USA TODAY Network identified more than 100 drivers who reported threats and retaliation. Managers punish drivers most often for turning down the lowest-paying routes, missing work or refusing to work past federal hour limits.

At least 24 companies have fired drivers outright under those circumstances, according to interviews and a review of court, NLRB and California labor commission records. In each case, the driver lost his truck and what he’d paid into it.

Arcadio Amaya said he refused to work 15 hours straight one night at Pacgran Inc. and was fired the next day. He lost $26,400 he had paid toward a truck.

Armando Logamo, a former driver at RPM Harbor Services, said he saw other drivers bribing dispatchers for better-paying assignments, so he told his supervisor. The next week, Logamo was fired. He lost the truck, along with all the payments he had put into it.

“They fired me because I was one of the ones that was speaking up,” he said. “It was pretty devastating because I was with them for two plus years.”

Eddy Gonzalez once missed a day when he was called to court to testify as a witness. As punishment, he said his boss at Seacon Logix didn't let him work the next day.

Then, a few months later, he missed a week to bury his dead mother. When Gonzalez came back, he said, his boss cleaned out his truck and fired him on the spot while he pleaded to keep his job.

“He just took the keys and left,” Gonzalez testified in court.

Eddy Gonzalez said he lost his job because he took time off for his mother's funeral. His former boss at Seacon Logix testified it was because he doubted Gonzalez could keep up with his truck payments.Trial transcript, Romero Garcia v. Seacon Logix
Representatives from all three companies denied their drivers’ accounts.

“It’s all f---ing bulls---,” said Edwin Merino, a former operations manager at Pacgran, which has since gone out of business. Merino said Amaya wasn’t fired. He said he quit because he had fallen so far behind on truck payments that he wasn’t making money when he worked.

Drivers say they are always one wrong step away from the street. Companies dangle that threat – “on pain of ‘discipline’ or termination,” as one judge put it in a labor case ruling – to force drivers to work around the clock.

Some companies have physically barred their workers from going home at night.

Eduardo Garcia, 57, remembers pulling into the Tradelink Transport truck yard exhausted after almost 15 hours behind the wheel one night in October 2010.

He was ready to go home to his family, but as he approached the Tradelink parking lot, he realized his day wasn’t over.

His said his boss was standing at the gate again, waving drivers back to the docks and refusing to let them into the spaces where they were required to park for the night.

“If you say no,” Garcia said, “then the next day, don't come in. No work for you.” So he went back to the docks.

Drivers at two other companies tell similar stories. They said it would happen regularly, especially if their employer was on the verge of missing a shipping deadline.

Jovanni Castillo said he worked every waking hour, six days a week, at Imperial CFS. If he was not driving 20 hours a day -- from 7 a.m. to 3 the next morning -- his company fined him $200, he said.

“We are not human,” Garcia told reporters inside his small, cluttered house tucked behind an alley in Los Angeles. “We are machines for making money for these people.”

Rigoberto Cea, president of Tradelink, said he’d go into the parking lot, but only to encourage drivers to keep working. “We would go out there and ask and beg,” he said in an interview. “Their interpretation was that they were slaves to us.”

An attorney for Imperial CFS denied the violations, saying the company has never punished its drivers. Imperial CFS, like many of the trucking companies, appealed labor commission rulings to civil court and later settled with drivers without admitting guilt.

MANUEL RIOS
Manuel Rios, 50, worked around the clock for years for K&R Transportation. But his truck lease payments left him unable to support his family.

“There’s not much money, do you understand me?” he told reporters inside his one-bedroom apartment in south Los Angeles. “I wasn’t bringing anything to my family. Everything was left on the truck. All your work, all your sacrifice, would just stay on the truck.”

Rios collapsed in December 2015 on the way to the park with his son. He said he had worked himself into a stroke. Unable to drive while he recovered, he fell behind on the truck costs, so his manager fired him.

A Nicaraguan immigrant with diabetes and a 9th grade education, Rios lost the truck, the money he had spent trying to buy it and his family’s only source of income.

Read Story
At Pacific 9, 20 drivers testified at the California labor commission that they had to work up to 19 hours a day, violating federal fatigue laws for truckers.

They said dispatchers ordered them to doctor their driving logs every Friday to hide the overtime from regulators.

“We were told to write 12 hours on the log sheet,” former driver David Figueroa testified in a 2015 labor commission case. “They said they would withhold our checks.”

The California labor commission has ruled that 40 Pacific 9 drivers were inaccurately classified as independent contractors. They were awarded a combined $6.8 million for lost wages. Judges did not rule on whether specific allegations of mistreatment actually occurred, but factored that testimony into the decision to rule them employees.

Alan Ta, the company’s chief operating officer, denied the drivers’ accounts.

“We could never have functioned if our drivers were put through that environment,” Ta said. “I mean who can physically even do that?

But the USA TODAY Network found evidence suggesting California port truckers, including many at Pacific 9, regularly worked too many hours.

Using California’s open records law, reporters obtained a port authority database that records the exact time a truck enters or exits the gate at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

VAHE OLMASSAKIAN
Vahe Olmassakian, 44, bought a used truck 12 years ago after saving some money from a small business he ran with his sister. He lived in a nice house with his wife, two kids and his mother.

Then in 2010, Olmassakian’s managers at Pacer Cartage told him a new environmental policy at the ports had banned old trucks like his. The company was starting a lease program that would let him make payments on a new truck that he could one day own.

He said they told him the money would be better. So he handed over his keys.

Soon Olmassakian found himself working up to 14 hours a day but still falling behind on his truck payments. He had to refinance his house twice to borrow money in order to keep up with his bills.

He said he worked constantly, but always managed to make it home for his kids’ soccer games.

Olmassakian wanted to quit but felt he had paid too much towards the truck to walk away. "I was already three years deep,” he told reporters.

Facing foreclosure in 2015, he finally sold his house and moved his family into an apartment.

"Thank God we could always afford food," he said.

Pacer's parent company, XPO Logistics, did not respond to a list of questions.

Read Story
From 2013 through 2016, trucks passed through the gates 23 million times, leaving a trail of which truck was on the road, when and where. The USA TODAY Network identified hundreds of thousands of instances where a truck was in operation for at least 14 hours without the required 10-hour break.

Not all of these instances are violations because two drivers might divide time behind the wheel of a single truck. But many companies ban that practice.

Pacific 9 is one of them. At least 7,500 times over three years, Pacific 9 trucks were on the clock for more than the 14 hour maximum, the port data shows. Almost all of the company’s 160 trucks exceeded the time limit at least once.

One Pacific 9 truck regularly operated through the night, more than 100 hours a week. Another went 35 hours without the proper break almost once a week for three years, according to the data.

When reporters shared the data with Ta, the executive said he couldn’t explain those circumstances and stopped responding to interview requests.

The role of retail

The scale of what comes through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach each year is hard to imagine.

If you laid the containers end to end, they would wrap around the Earth more than twice.

Most car parts manufactured across the Pacific come through Southern California. Same with electronics from China, Thailand or Indonesia. If you’ve bought anything from Walmart, Amazon, JCPenney, or any other store at the mall, there’s a good chance it started its trip across the U.S. with the port truckers around Los Angeles.

Using records from court hearings and labor cases and shipping log data provided by the trade research firm Panjiva, the USA TODAY Network identified the brands whose goods were moved by trucking companies with multiple violations. It’s not clear if the companies hired them directly. But retailers often don’t, relying instead on shipping and logistics companies to arrange trucking services from U.S. ports.

High profile customers
Through a maze of subcontractors, port trucking companies accused of labor violations have moved goods for some of America’s most beloved brands.

There are 81 drivers alleging violations by Total Transportation Services.
$2.7 Million has been awarded to 27 drivers.
Total Transportation Services has moved goods for Home Depot, J Crew, LG, Ralph Lauren and Target.

Next
Hewlett-Packard, Costco and Hasbro have moved containers through Pacific 9. Fargo Trucking, with 45 violations, has moved Bissell vacuum cleaners, UPS packages and Nautica apparel.

Steve Madden shoes and Neiman Marcus have used Imperial CFS, which has lost seven labor cases to date.

None of those retailers would comment for this story.

JCPenney spokesperson Daphne Avila said in an email that the company “relies on its third-party transportation vendors to comply with all applicable laws and regulations.”

JCPenney, which once hailed the lease purchase program as “innovative and cost-effective" in a press release, has moved shipments through Pacer Cartage, part of a family of XPO Logistics companies accused by at least 140 drivers of labor violations in both civil court and the California labor commission.

John Taylor, a spokesman for LG Electronics, said the company hires steamship lines that provide “door-to-door” shipping services, so it is not involved in hiring or managing trucking companies. LG believes “our responsibility starts when the goods arrive in our own warehouses,” Taylor said in an email.

Driver contracts and shipping records show that Total Transportation Services and QTS, two of the most heavily cited companies in the harbor, have moved containers with LG goods.

Public pressure and new laws in recent years have forced retailers to monitor their international supply chains.

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Target, for instance, takes a strong stance against forced labor in the cotton factories of Uzbekistan. It says it sends auditors to screen the companies that turn cotton into t-shirts sold in its stores.

The retailer promises to drop any vendor found exploiting workers with debt, according to its corporate responsibility policy. It won’t use companies that punish workers “physically or mentally.” It orders a 60-hour maximum on work weeks, with fair wages and benefits.

But Target has ignored the labor commission rulings in California and continued to allow companies found to have violated workers’ rights to move its goods. Company spokesperson Erika Winkles declined to comment.

Jeffrey Klink, a former fraud prosecutor and corporate ethics professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Business, said it’s easy for retailers to dodge accountability because they can argue they don’t directly hire port trucking companies.

“This is a classic case where the little guy gets screwed,” he said.

Put another way: “Nobody cares about us,” said trucker Gustavo Villa, “because we are living in the dark.”

Samuel Talavera Jr. ends his 19-hour day at 1 a.m. by parking on the side of the road for a few hours of sleep. Talavera rarely sees his family because he works up to 20 hours a day, six days a week. He has taken home as little as 67 cents for the week.

Brett Murphy began reporting this story while in the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.

DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT BY: Angelo Cocci, Pim Linders, Mitchell Thorson, Shawn Sullivan, Ramon Padilla and Jim Sergent, USA TODAY.

Tags: LA TruckersForced into debtexhaustionworking for free
Categories: Labor News

100 L.A. and Long Beach Teamsters union Local 848, port truck drivers and warehouse workers plan to strike Monday

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 11:29

100 L.A. and Long Beach Teamsters union Local 848, port truck drivers and warehouse workers plan to strike Monday
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-port-trucker-strike-20170615-story...
Truck drivers and warehouse workers serving the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports plan to launch their 15th strike in the last four years on Monday.
Jack Flemming
Around 100 truck drivers and warehouse workers serving the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports plan to launch a strike starting Monday — their 15th strike in the last four years.

The workers and Teamsters union Local 848 announced the labor action Thursday. The truck drivers have been pushing for years to become employees rather than independent contractors to improve pay and workplace protections

The workers are calling out the port cities for allowing “greedy corporations to continue to exploit hard-working men and women through abusive and often illegal contracting-out, misclassification, temporary staffing and wage theft schemes,” Eric Tate, secretary-treasurer for Teamsters union Local 848, said at a news conference Thursday at the Port of Los Angeles.

Drivers and warehouse workers will picket XPO Logistics terminals Monday, and they’ll spread their picket lines to Intermodal Bridge Transport and California Cartage Co. on Tuesday, Tate said. The strike will last at least through the week, Tate said.

Past strikes have led terminals to turn away trucks of companies from striking firms, said Phillip Sanfield, spokesman for the Port of Los Angeles.

Because of the large size of the ports and the amount of companies operating there, however, the strikes have had “minimal” effect on port operations, he said.

A representative of XPO Logistics declined to comment on the strike threat. Representatives of Intermodal Bridge Transport and California Cartage could not be reached for comment.

“Trucking companies have lured drivers into abusive truck lease schemes and failed to pay them for time worked, resulting in driver strikes disrupting port operations and causing congestion,” a news release from Justice for Port Truck Drivers said.
“I was living in a church because I couldn’t afford rent,” Alberto Arenas, a warehouse worker for California Cartage, said through a translator. “I’ve been working here for 12 years and only make $12 an hour, which is not enough to support a family.”

The strike announcement follows a pact signed Monday by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia to “move toward the goal of zero emissions” at the ports and establish goals for zero-emission trucks by 2035. The union has complained that the goals don’t mention the effect on truck drivers.

“We think that’s a great idea, but there was no mention on how this would impact the drivers,” Tate said.

He added that when the ports enacted the Clean Trucks Program in 2008 to cut down on diesel pollution, the drivers bore the bulk of the cost.

Twitter: @jflem94jack.flemming@latimes.com

UPDATES:

3:20 p.m.: This article was updated with XPO Logistics declining to comment on the strike threat.

12:05 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from Port of Los Angeles spokesman Phillip Sanfield.

9:30 a.m.: This article was updated after the announcement with comments from Eric Tate and Alberto Arenas.

Tags: IBT 848LA Port Truckers Strikegreedy corporations
Categories: Labor News

Victims of UPS shooting mourned, company disputes claims of ‘hostile’ work environment for IBT Local 2785

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 10:53

Victims of UPS shooting mourned, company disputes claims of ‘hostile’ work environment for IBT Local 2785

IBT Local 2785 "Cilia, whose union has about 300 members in San Francisco, said working for UPS is a high-stress job but would not go as far as calling it a hostile workplace.”

http://www.sfexaminer.com/victims-ups-shooting-mourned-company-disputes-...

Community members created a memorial outside the Potrero Hill UPS facility after Wednesday’s shooting left four dead. (Jonah Owen Lamb/S.F. Examiner)
By Jonah Owen Lamb on June 16, 2017 1:00 am

Police on Thursday continued to investigate what led San Francisco resident Jimmy Lam to fatally shoot three of his colleagues at a UPS facility Wednesday and injure two more before he turned the gun on himself.

But at least two employees of the warehouse said the atmosphere at the packaging and sorting facility was tense before the shooting because management and staff do not get along due to unending pressures and an at-times hostile work environment.

“If someone did have some mental problems, it’s a tough place to work even if your head is screwed on straight,” said Joseph Cilia, secretary treasurer of Teamsters Local 2785, who had no idea what motivated Lam. “Something’s underneath, something buried that no one knows about. Something bad.” Police said that at around 9 a.m. Lam killed Mike Lefiti, Benson Louie and Wayne Chan outside of the UPS warehouse at 320 San Bruno Ave. and wounded two other UPS employees. He then shot himself, according to police.

The shooting was one of the most violent events in recent city history and prompted at least one elected official, state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, to call for stricter gun controls.

Louie, 50, a San Francisco resident, had worked for UPS for 17 years. The full-time driver had two children, according to his union.
Tom Nash, who runs a UPS drop-off site in the Sunset, saw Louie, who was a volleyball coach, every day.

“He was a very outgoing, happy-go-lucky guy,” said Nash. “Just one of those guys you couldn’t help but like.”

Chan, 56, also a city resident, had worked for the company for 28 years and also had two children.

Lefiti, 46, of Hercules, had been with the company for 17 years. A memorial was set up Wednesday night near his old route at a Diamond Heights shopping center by the many people he saw daily.

Lam, 38, had worked for UPS for 18 years.

On Thursday, the warehouse was back to full operations, said Kim Krebs, a company spokesperson, who added that Lam’s motive remains unknown.

“The whole thing is incredibly tragic,” said Krebs. “UPS is kind of an extended family for a lot of the employees and our hearts really go out to the victims families.”

Lam was described by one employee, who asked to remain anonymous, as a “quiet guy — did his job as far as I know.”

Lam lived in the Richmond District — his home was searched late Wednesday by police — and he had recently asked to reduce his overtime hours at the facility.

In 2010, he was convicted of a DUI and completed a diversion program, according to court records. Then, in 2013, he was charged again with a DUI, but the case was dropped. He had no other criminal record.

Vincent Smith, 46, who works at the UPS warehouse cleaning trucks, described the workplace environment as “hostile” and has been off work for seven weeks do to physiological stress.

“Part of it is because you have management that are improperly trained or one or two people who are taking improper action to show favoritism,” said Smith. “I can’t speak for what actually happened yesterday. I can tell you it is a hostile work environment to some degree.”

Cilia, whose union has about 300 members in San Francisco, said working for UPS is a high-stress job but would not go as far as calling it a hostile workplace.

Cilia didn’t want to speculate if or why anyone might have been targeted, but he did say that something may have snapped inside of Lam, who had two sons.

Another warehouse employee, who did not want to give their name for fear of reprisal, said the workplace is distressing.

“Before this there was problems with management, how they talked to people and treated people,” they said. “He’s not the only one. I think he’s not the only one on edge.”

Another company spokesperson disagreed with that characterization Thursday.

“I would dispute that,” said Susan Rosenberg. “[I would] say we have a very successful and engaged workforce.”

Rosenberg added that there are a number of avenues given to employees to report harassment and unfair working conditions.

Tags: IBT Local 2785workplace violenceupsstressworkplace murder
Categories: Labor News

What You Need to Know About the General Strike That Just Swept Colombia’s Largest Port

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 10:34

What You Need to Know About the General Strike That Just Swept Colombia’s Largest Port

http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/20232/what_you_need_to_know_about_...

What You Need to Know About the General Strike That Just Swept Colombia’s Largest Port
Working In These Times
Wednesday, Jun 14, 2017, 1:03 pm

BY Isaías Cifuentes and Neil Martin

Afro-Colombian communities led a two-day civic strike in the city of Buenaventura. (Olivia Plato)

Little-noticed by the English-language media, the Colombian city of Buenaventura was brought to a standstill by a weeks-long civic strike, in which Afro-Colombian communities won major commitments from the Colombian government. Waged from May 16 through June 6, the mass protest was organized by people demanding that the government declare a state of social and economic emergency and provide basic quality-of-life improvements for a population that has been targeted by systematic human rights violations for decades. Buenaventura’s ports generate $1.8 billion in yearly revenue, but most of it its 400,000 residents—90 percent of whom are Afro-Colombian—live in poverty.

The mass protest was organized by religious figures, social justice groups, unions, students, community councils and Indigenous people. The first several days of the strike resembled a city-wide block party, with dancing and music concentrated around dozens of peaceful roadblocks. Representatives of the departmental and national governments began to negotiate with the Strike Committee.

But, in the midst of talks, riot police swept through the city in an attempt to restore the flow of vehicular traffic, shooting tear gas into high-density residential neighborhoods. This crackdown provoked a night of havoc, during which several of Buenaventura’s commercial establishments had their windows smashed and goods taken. When protests resumed, they were marked by ongoing confrontations between the police and protesters until June 6, when an agreement was reached between the government and the Strike Committee.

The government’s violent response to the demonstrations has been decried by many, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and a group of U.S. congressional representatives. Buenaventura’s communities ended the strike with celebrations, applauding commitments made by the government that, if met, will end decades of what locals refer to as “state abandonment” and “robbery.” Roughly $517 million is to be spent on development and public services in housing, education, healthcare, infrastructure and water and sewage systems.

Although the strike has been lauded as a success, it also fits into a pattern in Colombia in which communities that represent specific regions or economic sectors see protest as their only option to achieve social change or attract the attention of the government. And once they take this action, their mobilizations tend to be met with violent repression.

Meanwhile, these communities suffer hyper-exploitation and displacement under trade regimes that are global in scale. Buenaventura is Colombia’s largest port and an integral part of Colombia’s trade with the United States, European Union and partner countries in the Pacific Alliance trade block. As a result, port expansion has surged in recent years, promoted by multinational companies including Group TCB, International Container Terminal Services and PSA International. These megaprojects, as well as industrial storage facilities and a touristic wharf renovation project, have contributed to the displacement of urban neighborhoods in the city’s center. Some 20 million tons of freight pass through the city each year, generating more than 2 billion dollars, while roughly 60 percent of the population lives in poverty and 65 percent is unemployed.

Buenaventura is a case study in the challenges associated with the transition to neoliberal policies in the Global South. Colombia’s ports were privatized in 1993, causing drastic reductions in public revenue for Buenaventura and opening a new era of slavery-like working conditions for port employees. In the early 2000s, water services were privatized, and they have deteriorated steadily since. Currently 60 percent of properties have access to sewage system and 76 percent to running water, even though Buenaventura is surrounded by 16 rivers. The city’s hospital closed recently, and educational infrastructure is crumbling. A once robust fishing industry is now little more than a graveyard of rusting ships.

Simultaneously, the dispute for territorial control between factions in Colombia’s civil war has fueled the displacement of the city residents, half of whom are recognized by the state as victims of armed conflict. This, combined with the drug trade and extortion-oriented gangs, has led to more than a thousand homicides in the last ten years and one of the highest rates of internally displaced personas in the hemisphere.

Meanwhile, an almost complete lack of oversight by the national government has led to widespread corruption. The political class sees public resources as booty that is up for the taking, and the city’s catastrophic conditions are largely the responsibility of political parties and regional figures who have ruled the city in alliance the national elite. Figures for attendance in Buenaventura’s public schools exceed the actual number of students by 50,000 children. Former liberal party mayors—including Édgar Roberto Carabalí Mallarino, Freddy Fernando Salas Guaitotó, Jaime Mosquera Borja and Bartolo Valencia Ramos—have been investigated and convicted in corruption cases. One was murdered. The drug trade and paramilitary structures have expanded their activities to include ‘influence trafficking,’ coercion and the purchase of votes—all of which help to conserve the power of the ruling class.

All of these factors added to the humanitarian and social crisis in Buenaventura, which boiled over into a 22-day civic strike. While the strike has been suspended, communities demanding dignity and justice face a long struggle ahead.

Tags: Colombian port strike
Categories: Labor News

Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach truck drivers threaten to strike the reality remains that organized labor has the ability to cripple port productivity and force negotiations.

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 10:26

Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach truck drivers threaten to strike
the reality remains that organized labor has the ability to cripple port productivity and force negotiations.
http://www.supplychaindive.com/news/strike-port-LA-LB-truck-protest/444907/
AUTHOR

Edwin Lopez
@EdwinLopezT37
Kate Patrick
PUBLISHED

June 14, 2017
Dive Brief:

Truck drivers, warehouse workers, a Los Angeles City Councilmember and local Teamsters are banding together Thursday to announce a strike affecting operations at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, according to a Justice for Port Truck Drivers media advisory.
The proposed strike follows an announcement by the two cities' mayors setting a zero-emissions goal for the sister ports. The goal would require the ports to turn to zero-emission trucks and yard equipment, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The proposed strike would protest this goal, claiming the burden of these zero-emission policies falls on the industry. In addition, Justice for Port Truck Drivers is also protesting "abusive" driver employment schemes relying on contract work or leased equipment.
Story continues below

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Dive Insight:

The date and scale of the potential strike are yet unknown, but representatives for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach told Supply Chain Dive that they aren't worried about how the strike will affect their operations.

Phillip Sanfield, Director of Media Relations for the Port of Los Angeles, said he isn't aware of the strike's details, but said the port always works with the protesters to make sure streets are safe. "They've done this probably 20 times over the past few years and have had minimal to no impact on our operations," Sanfield told Supply Chain Dive.

Lee Peterson, Media Relations Specialist for the Port of Long Beach, said Long Beach is aware the strike will be happening soon but plans to be fully operational throughout. "We will make sure the picketers exercise their right to protest," Peterson told Supply Chain Dive.

The two West Coast ports are the busiest in the nation, handling over a million containers a month, and depend greatly on internal logistics operators to ensure efficient transit from ship to terminal, and then to a logistics provider. Some of these port logistics operators are not directly employed by ports, however, but by trucking companies or contracting agencies — a model which has recently come under fire over its legality.

Over $40 million in back pay has been awarded to truck drivers since the implementation of the 2008 Clean Truck Program, Justice for Port Truck Driver alleges, as associated companies "lured" drivers into schemes and failed to pay them for extra time worked. The main issue, the organization claims, is that the zero-emission goal did not specify "who would pay for the new technology." Drivers who cannot afford new equipment would likely be displaced, or forced to lease equipment from associated companies.

In general, the announcement falls in line with a nationwide trend of port workers — from drivers, to tugboat operators, to dock workers — organizing disruptions to force employers into negotiations for better terms and employment security.

Earlier this year, workers associated with the International Longshoremen's Associations threatened to shut down East Coast and Gulf Coast ports, in protest of worker displacement over port automation. The strike was averted when the global union's president pledged to bring the issue to Congress, but the issue was not resolved. Even abroad, in Spain, Nordic countries, and in Panama, port workers are protesting unfavorable labor agreements.

However, shippers are demanding more efficient ports and the rise of Smart Ports in places like Canada and Germany show the benefits of automation. Organized labor, through high cost of employment and reluctance to innovate, supposedly slows this process.

Yet, the reality remains that organized labor has the ability to cripple port productivity and force negotiations. The most recent announcement may not cause a major disruption, but it shows the muscle and influence workers still have on the economy. For that same reason, and in fear of another major supply chain disruption, shippers reportedly distrust West Coast ports.

Tags: LA Port Truckersunionizationstrike
Categories: Labor News

UPS IBT Local 2785 Sec. Treasurer Joseph Cilia says San Francisco shooter filed grievance over excessive overtime with company before killing 3

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 09:10

UPS IBT Local 2785 Sec. Treasurer Joseph Cilia says San Francisco shooter filed grievance over excessive overtime with company before killing 3
http://abc7chicago.com/news/ups-teamster-says-sf-shooter-filed-grievance...
Updated 2 hrs 24 mins ago
SAN FRANCISCO -- A UPS employee who had recently filed a grievance opened fire Wednesday inside one of the company's San Francisco packing facilities, killing three co-workers before fatally shooting himself as employees fled frantically into the streets shouting "shooter!," authorities and witnesses said.

The gunman, Jimmy Lam, filed the grievance in March complaining that he was working excessive overtime, Joseph Cilia, an official with a Teamsters Union local that represents UPS workers in San Francisco, told The Associated Press.

Still, Cilia said Lam wasn't angry, and he could not understand why he would open fire on fellow drivers at a morning meeting. Lam appeared to target the three drivers who died, chasing at least one of them out of the building, Cilia said. Cilia said he spoke to witnesses who had been in the meeting of UPS drivers.

"I never knew Jimmy to not get along with people," Cilia said. "Jimmy wasn't a big complainer."

Two other UPS employees were wounded, but Cilia said both were released from the hospital.

Amid a barrage of gunfire, some workers sought refuge on the roof of the four-story facility, while others ran outside and pounded on the windows of a public bus, witnesses said.

"They were screaming, 'Go! Go! Go!'" said Jessica Franklin, 30, who was riding to work when the bus made a regular stop in front of the UPS facility. "As they got on the bus, they were all ducking."

The shooting that prompted a massive police response in one of the city's industrial neighborhoods, about two miles from downtown San Francisco, Assistant Police Chief Toney Chaplin told reporters.

UPS spokesman Steve Gaut said the shooter was a company employee. A San Francisco Police Department official identified him as Jimmy Lam of San Francisco but had no immediate details on his background, noting the name is common in the San Francisco Bay Area and finding information required significant record searches.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

Officials, UPS employees, and witnesses described chaos as shots rang out during a morning meeting before drivers were sent on their delivery routes.

Police have not yet released victims' names but families and friends identified one of the people killed as 46-year-old Mike Lefiti, a UPS driver.

Lefiti's cousin, Mack Toia, told KGO-TV he was at the UPS facility waiting to pick up Lefiti when he heard shots. He left his van and saw his cousin sprawled on concrete behind a gate, Toia said.

"The police officers were right on the scene just like that. I got to touch him, but I couldn't hug him," Toia said. "They just pushed me away because they were trying to resuscitate him."

Toia said he was able to tell Lefiti he loved him.

Co-worker Isaiah Miggins said he saw Lefiti, known as "Big Mike," as he arrived for work just before 9 a.m., a few minutes before the shooting started. "He was a joyful man. Always happy," Miggins said.

On social media, heartbroken family members of Lefiti recalled him as a warm-spirited man devoted to his children and family. A photo on his Facebook page shows Lefiti in his brown UPS uniform holding a trophy. He also posted photos of his UPS truck and an award for 15 years of service to the company in 2015.

Neighbor Raymond Deng said he heard up to eight gunshots.

"They were all in rapid succession," said Deng, a 30-year-old tech worker who lives across the street from the warehouse. "It was like tat, tat, tat, tat, tat, tat, tat."

Police arrived in minutes.

"This was a frightful scene," Chaplin said. He said officers found two victims outside and others inside and pulled the wounded to safety as they confronted the gunman, who was armed with an "assault pistol."

"The suspect put the gun to his head and discharged the weapon," Chaplin said, adding that police did not fire any shots.

Chaplin said police have not determined a motive and were interviewing families of victims and witnesses to piece together what led the gunman to act.

Mayor Ed Lee condemned the violence and praised authorities for a "very proactive response."

"It could have been worse," he said. "Lives were saved today."

It was not immediately clear how many employees were at the facility, but UPS said the warehouse employs 350 people. The shooter and all the victims were employees, UPS said in a statement.

UPS driver Marvin Calderon told KNTV that he recognized the gunman as a fellow employee but did not know him personally.

"I just started running out like crazy, like I've never run before," Calderon told the TV station.

After the gunfire, auto shop owner Robert Kim said he saw "a mob of UPS drivers" running down the street screaming "shooter, shooter."

Deng watched from his window in the Potrero Hill section of San Francisco as workers fled the building. He said another group of about 10 people gathered on the roof and held up their hands waving for help.

"I saw police officers go up from the ramp and then storm the buildings," he said. "It's crazy."

The shooting occurred the same day a gunman opened fire on Republican lawmakers at a congressional baseball practice in Virginia, wounding U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and several others.

SF IBT Union official says Lam filed excessive OT grievance
http://www.ktvu.com/news/ktvu-local-news/261227088-storyhttp://www.ktvu.... killed in shooting at SF UPS facility

Active shooter at UPS in San Francisco
POSTED: JUN 14 2017 09:13AM PDT
UPDATED: JUN 14 2017 09:52PM PDT
SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- UPS workers were shocked, grief stricken and left wondering how something so awful could happen on what seemed to be just another work day.

Four people, including the alleged gunman, were killed during a shooting Wednesday morning at a UPS facility in San Francisco's Potrero Hill neighborhood, authorities Cup of Jo for Bombas Socks

KTVU sources have now identified the gunman as Jimmy Lam. A union official says the gunman who shot and killed three people at a UPS warehouse in San Francisco had filed a grievance complaining that he was working excessive overtime.

Joseph Cilia, an official with a local Teamsters Union, says Jimmy Lam's grievance filed in March requested that UPS relieve him of working overtime going forward.

Still, Cilia said Lam wasn't angry, and he could not understand why he would open fire on fellow drivers at a morning meeting. Cilia says witnesses told him Lam appeared to specifically go for the drivers who died, chasing at least one of them out of the building.

San Francisco police said that two other victims suffered gunshot wounds when Lam, a UPS employee began firing inside the facility. It was not immediately clear what prompted the shooting. Assistant Chief Toney Chaplin said during a press conference at the scene that the worker was armed with a pistol when police arrived. Lam turned the gun on himself as police approached, Chaplin said.

San Francisco police are investigating if Lam randomly targeted people. Sources tell KTVU that all of the victims are men.

Police recovered two firearms at the scene.

A UPS official told KTVU that four employees were involved in the incident within the facility but the company could not provide identification information about the employees who worked at the package delivery center.

>>>>>LIVE VIDEO: Click here

San Francisco police asked people to avoid the area of 17th and Vermont streets while officers investigated the shooting. A shelter-in-place for the area was lifted around 11:30 a.m., San Francisco police said.

A spokesman for Zuckerberg General Hospital says that multiple victims have been taken to the hospital, but cannot confirm their conditions.

UPS spokesman Steve Gaut said about 350 employees work at the facility at 320 San Bruno Ave. and they were evacuated by police at 12:30 p.m. while authorities investigate the shooting.

SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose confirmed to KTVU that a group of uniformed UPS employees ran onto a Muni bus following the shooting to try and escape the area. He said the bus driver took the employees to 3rd and 20th where she pulled over and alerted authorities. The bus driver is said to have taken the rest of the day off, according to Rose.

311 employees have been reunited with their families as of 1:45 p.m.

Police wrote shortly after 10:30 a.m. that the incident has been contained and the building was secure, but investigators continued to look through the building for possible victims or witnesses.

A man who lives across the street from the UPS facility said he heard seven or eight shots fired quickly and saw workers running.

Raymond Deng, 30, a data scientist for a start-up company, said he looked out his apartment window Wednesday to see a group of UPS workers fleeing the building and shouting. He said another group of about 10 workers assembled on the roof and held their hands up as police began to arrive.

Deng says he "saw police officers go up from the ramp and then storm the buildings."

Witnesses told KTVU that they heard shots being fired and people screaming. Employees at the facility were being escorted out of the building around 9:45 a.m.

KTVU spoke over the phone with a woman who says she is an employee at the UPS facility. She says the shooting happened on the main sorting floor. She said the gunman was an employee.

A UPS driver said the gunman opened fire as drivers and managers were assembling for a morning meeting at the facility.

UPS driver Marvin Calderon said he had parked in the driveway and was about to go inside when he heard the sound of gunfire.

"Six, seven shots, boom. I started screaming ‘Get out! Go! Go! Go!’ Everybody started running," said Calderon.

Calderon said he didn't know the gunman, but said one of the victims was his friend.

"Shocking. Life goes so quick. Thinking about your co-workers," he said.

Some relatives of UPS workers gathered outside the police perimeter on Potrero Avenue.

"I was at work, heard the news and left immediately," said Maria Olmeda, an employee's relative.

For a time she didn't know whether her 21-year-old son had been hurt or worse. But she later learned he was okay. She was both thankful and sad.

"It is scary for everyone," she said.

Another mother also waited to see her daughter.

"I feel for the parents of loved ones who aren't there. I know my daughter is okay. I just want to give her a hug," said Maria Hernandez.

Some employees reunited with family at a nearby meeting place arranged by the Red Cross.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein issued a statement about the incident.

Tags: IBT Local 2785workplace violeceexcessive overtime
Categories: Labor News

AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department Wants To Reform NAFTA And Make It Better Under Trump

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 12:22

AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department Wants To Reform NAFTA And Make It Better Under Trump

Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO says NAFTA renegotiation must put U.S. jobs, safety first
https://www.ajot.com/news/transportation-trades-department-says-nafta-re...
By: AJOT | Jun 14 2017 at 08:12 AM | International Trade

Aviation, maritime exclusions must remain

Washington, DC - In comments filed yesterday, transportation labor laid out a vision for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that puts America’s working families first by growing the U.S. economy, protecting American jobs and prioritizing the safety of our cross-border transportation system.

In addition to the comprehensive recommendations of the AFL-CIO, the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), called for new policies that enforce strict protections for transportation workers and ensure the industries they work in remain hubs for good, middle-class jobs.

“Our trade agreements, including NAFTA, should not be used to undermine the jobs and rights of transportation employees and the broader U.S. workforce. Not only have promises of greater wealth and more opportunity not come to fruition under NAFTA, but the very rules and regulations designed to keep working people safe have been jeopardized under this agreement,” said Edward Wytkind, President of TTD. “President Trump campaigned on a promise to reform our trade policies. The renegotiation of NAFTA presents a clear opportunity to craft a new agreement that expands and strengthens the American middle class and ensures our transportation system remains the safest in the world.”

Specifically, TTD is calling for any renegotiated version of NAFTA to:

Prohibit bus and truck traffic from Mexico that violates U.S. safety rules including attempts to evade hours of service limits, drug and alcohol testing, and the appropriate credentialing for Mexico-based drivers
Uphold U.S.-backed standards for safety inspections of freight rail locomotives and to prohibit Mexico-based freight train crews from operating trains beyond the border
Preserve Buy America standards and other procurement rules that maximize job creation when U.S. taxpayer dollars are invested in our economy
Require each country to make minimum investments in infrastructure to facilitate economic expansion
Ensure that foreign companies cannot use NAFTA to force the privatization of local transit, rail and other public services
Protect U.S. aviation and maritime sectors from unfair competition by continuing to exclude these industries from the scope of the agreement

“Our trade agreements should be designed to put money in the pockets of America’s working families, not large, multi-national corporations or foreign governments,” Wytkind said. “We call on this Administration to renegotiate NAFTA in a way that will create good jobs for Americans who need them most, grow the economy and uphold strict standards that keep our transportation system and working people safe.”

Tags: NAFTATrumpreforming NAFTAderegulationprivatization
Categories: Labor News

WorkWeek6-13-17 Labor Protest Nazis In Portland And Jeremy Corbyn In SF At Conf To Stop War Sponsored By ILWU 10 & 34

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 09:46

WorkWeek6-13-17 Labor Protest Nazis In Portland And Jeremy Corbyn In SF At Conf To Stop War Sponsored By ILWU 10 & 34
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio/workweek6-13-17-labor-protest-nazi...
WorkWeek looks at the response of trade unionists and union locals opposed to racists and nazis in Portland. Following the murders in Portland on May 26, 2017 of two workers including one who was a member of IATSE Local 17, the neo-nazis and racists tried to have a rally and march in the city. WorkWeek interviews Wyatt McMinn who is Vice President of the Painters Union Local 10 in Portland and Rebecca Lewis who is a member of IATSE 488 and both are supporters of the Internationalist Group.
Next we hear from Jeremy Corbyn, who is the leader of the UK Labor Party who was in San Francisco on October 20, 2007 to speak at a Labor Conference to Stop The War sponsored by the ILWU Local 10 and Local 34.
He discussed the role of the ILWU, internationalism and the fight against US wars in the Middle East and attacks on Iran.
For additional information:
http://www.nwcarpenters.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Anti-white-nation...
https://nwlaborpress.org/2017/06/unions-react-to-the-max-killings/
http://www.wweek.com/news/2017/05/30/organized-labor-groups-pledge-show-...
https://archive.org/details/Johnp-LaborConferenceToStopTheWar477
http://www.transportworkers.org/node/2888
https://sites.google.com/site/laborstopwar/laborconferencetostopthewar
Production of WorkWeek Radio
workweek@kpfa.org
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio

Tags: NazisJeremy Corbynlabor solidarityilwuinternationalismlabor defense
Categories: Labor News

WorkWeek6-13-17 Labor Protest Nazis In Portland And Jeremy Corbyn In SF At Conf To Stop War Sponsored By ILWU 10 & 34

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 09:46

WorkWeek6-13-17 Labor Protest Nazis In Portland And Jeremy Corbyn In SF At Conf To Stop War Sponsored By ILWU 10 & 34
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio/workweek6-13-17-labor-protest-nazi...
WorkWeek looks at the response of trade unionists and union locals opposed to racists and nazis in Portland. Following the murders in Portland on May 26, 2017 of two workers including one who was a member of IATSE Local 17, the neo-nazis and racists tried to have a rally and march in the city. WorkWeek interviews Wyatt McMinn who is Vice President of the Painters Union Local 10 in Portland and Rebecca Lewis who is a member of IATSE 488 and both are supporters of the Internationalist Group.
Next we hear from Jeremy Corbyn, who is the leader of the UK Labor Party who was in San Francisco on October 20, 2007 to speak at a Labor Conference to Stop The War sponsored by the ILWU Local 10 and Local 34.
He discussed the role of the ILWU, internationalism and the fight against US wars in the Middle East and attacks on Iran.
For additional information:
http://www.nwcarpenters.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Anti-white-nation...
https://nwlaborpress.org/2017/06/unions-react-to-the-max-killings/
http://www.wweek.com/news/2017/05/30/organized-labor-groups-pledge-show-...
https://archive.org/details/Johnp-LaborConferenceToStopTheWar477
http://www.transportworkers.org/node/2888
https://sites.google.com/site/laborstopwar/laborconferencetostopthewar
Production of WorkWeek Radio
workweek@kpfa.org
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio

Tags: NazisJeremy Corbynlabor solidarityilwuinternationalismlabor defense
Categories: Labor News

Global front rising up against Uber through the courts and trade unions

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 09:44

Global front rising up against Uber through the courts and trade unions

By Rachel Knaebel
13 June 2017

Global front rising up against Uber through the courts and trade unions

https://www.equaltimes.org/global-front-rising-up-against#.WUFUdhQrC-R
Colombian taxi driver protesting against Uber during one of the many demonstrations held around the world to denounce the mobile app that connects customers with private drivers whilst circumventing the regulations governing the trade. Bogota, Colombia, 10 May 2017.
(AP/Fernando Vergara)
Be it in San Francisco or Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro or Paris, Santiago de Chile or Hong Kong, no matter where Uber has been introduced, taxi drivers have responded with protests and, in some cases, legal action. The problem is that the mobile app connecting customers with private drivers, total amateurs in some cases, competes directly with professional taxis, but circumvents all the rules in terms of pay, social security contributions and training.

The legal or political authorities in several cities and countries have decided to place a total or partial ban on Uber services. At the end of 2016, the Brazilian metropolis Rio de Janeiro, for example, passed a law prohibiting all transport platforms of this kind. In the Belgian capital, Brussels, it was the justice system that banned UberPop, the app connecting private drivers with passengers. In France, the UberPop case went all the way to the Constitutional Court, which confirmed, in September 2015, the decision to prohibit the service that had been introduced into the country a year earlier. In Italy, UberPop was banned in 2015. The Italian justice system also banned all of the firm’s other driver services in April 2017, following a complaint filed by Italian taxi drivers.

“But Uber has appealed the decision, so it can’t be implemented as yet. It’s on hold,” Mac Utara, inland transport secretary at the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), tells Equal Times.

The Federation has recorded legal proceedings or bans against Uber in 49 countries across the globe. Legal action does not always, however, lead to a straightforward ban, and it is often a long, drawn-out process.
“Governments, taxi drivers and taxi firms in many countries are taking a stand against Uber. Uber often loses legal battles. And in some instances the court decisions are strictly implemented,” explains Mac Utara. “It’s a good thing. But it’s even better when actual laws are passed to counter Uber.”

This was the case in Denmark and Bulgaria. Denmark adopted a new law on taxis in March 2017, under which all vehicles wishing to offer transport services must be equipped with security cameras and taximeters. “This effectively excludes Uber drivers who use their own vehicles,” underlines Mac Utara.

When this new regulation was adopted, Uber announced the decision to withdraw its service from Denmark. Bulgaria also passed a special law in October 2015 that led Uber to pull out of the country. The legislation stipulates that only registered companies respecting the regulations governing taxis are allowed to operate in the country.

In Germany, a group of taxi firms filed legal action against Uber as soon as it began operating in the country, in 2014. Two years went by before the German justice system finally, on appeal, banned private drivers from using the application. Since then, only professional taxis can use UberPop to connect with their customers.

“In addition to this court ruling, a number of German cities decided to ban Uber on the basis that its services do not comply with the rules applicable to transport firms. Uber has not opposed these bans,” adds Mira Ball, head of the transport section of the German services trade union federation Verdi (Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft).

“But it is important to make a clear distinction between UberPop and other Uber services,” says Herwig Kollar, the lawyer defending German taxis in this legal battle. “UberBlack and UberX services are still operating in Germany, in Berlin and Munich.”

UberBlack is a chauffeur-driven luxury car hire service and UberX a driver service. “And the legal dispute with Uber is still underway. The company contested the ruling, delivered on appeal, banning its service. The procedure has gone all the way to the German federal court, which is awaiting a decision from the Court of Justice of the European Union before issuing its ruling.”

The EU’s highest court has, in fact, been called on by an association of Spanish taxi drivers to decide whether Uber should be classed as a transport service or simply an online platform, as claimed by the California-based company.
On 11 May, the court’s advocate-general published recommendations on the case. They are clear: Uber should be considered as a transport service. And as such, the company can be compelled to respect the licensing and authorisation obligations applicable to transport companies in the various countries of the European Union.

“In 80 per cent of cases, the Court of Justice of the European Union follows the recommendations of the advocate-general,” says Mac Utara.

Uber drivers organise

In addition to the legal battles led by various authorities and taxi drivers, Uber is being fought on another front, by Uber drivers themselves, who are starting to organise to secure better pay and working conditions.

“Since Uber lowered its rates, it has become impossible to make ends meet, even working a 12 or 14 hour day,” says Félix, who has been an Uber driver for two years and is a member of the French VTC (chauffer-driven vehicles) association Actif-VTC.

“After UberPop was banned in France, Uber lowered its rates, arguing that customers had been lost because of the ban and that lower prices were needed to win them back. The other VTC platforms followed suit. Uber also started to take bigger commissions. It was already a tough job two years ago. Now, it’s a disaster.”

In January, the various organisations representing Uber drivers in France initiated negotiations with the company. To no avail. “Uber wasn’t prepared to budge an inch on any of the workers’ demands, be it an increase in rates or a halt to the recruitment of new drivers. Because Uber is now recruiting new drivers every day,” says Félix.

“Uber has never wanted to negotiate. Each time, they would say they couldn’t change the rates because they wouldn’t make any money. In other words, that means they have the right to earn money, but not us.”
“Unfortunately, the Uber platform now sees these negotiating sessions as no more than a semblance of consultations, showing its inability (deliberate or not) to accept any real exchange on the key issue of rates,” adds the CFDT-affiliated transport federation, which took part in the talks. In response to the deadlock, the alliance of trade unions representing Uber drivers in France has finally appealed to the platform’s customers, calling on them to boycott it until the company negotiates.

“There is a general sense of powerlessness against Uber,” says Félix. But his organisation, which has around 200 members, has no intention of giving up. The drivers are in the process of launching their own application and an independent cooperative, so that they can continue to work without having to rely on Uber.

“We have had enough of being dependent on Uber,” concludes the Parisian driver.

Tags: UberDriversglobal workforce
Categories: Labor News

"US Uniting Against War" Jeremy Corbyn Presentation at SF ILWU Local 10 on 10/20/07

Fri, 06/09/2017 - 10:08

US Uniting Against War
Jeremy Corbyn Presentation on 10/20/07 at SF ILWU Local 10
US Uniting Against War
By Jeremy Corbyn

British Labor MP Jeremy Corbyn reports from the U.S. on the one-day labor conference hosted by the ILWU to build opposition to the war in Iraq and calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. It took place in San Francisco on Saturday, October 20, 2007.

The International Longshoremen and Warehouse Men’s Union (ILWU) has a long and very honorable tradition of international solidarity.

Its members are organized in all the ports and docks on the west coast of the U.S. and in Hawaii and are a very powerful force in the U.S. labor movement.

Their legendary leader, the late Harry Bridges, is revered for the battles during the Great Depression, when labor fought for its existence against the overwhelming might of their employers.

It is not an insular or inward-looking organization and has supported struggles and causes all around the world. On his release from prison in 1990, Nelson Mandela made specific reference to the support that ILWU members had given in practical sanctions to the apartheid regime.

They also gave huge financial and real support to the miners in Britain during the 1984-5 strike and, more recently, they gave all support possible to the Liverpool dockers during their heroic struggle to save jobs on the Merseyside docks.

The ILWU exemplifies some of the best traditions of the U.S. labor movement of linking industrial and political actions. Meetings are held in the ILWU “hiring hall” which, in the daytime, acts as an employment exchange for dockworkers and, in the evenings, is a place of debate and discourse. Huge banners adorn the concrete walls opposing the Department of Homeland Security and the war in Iraq and calling for social justice such as free health care in the U.S.

Last weekend, it organized a one-day conference on building opposition to the war in Iraq and calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

It has participated in all of the big anti-war demonstrations since 2003 and is calling for support for next weekend’s coast-to-coast activities demanding peace in Iraq.

The conference was opened by Jack Heyman of ILWU Local 10, who was one of the speakers at the million-plus demonstration in London in 2003. He outlined the reasons why the union had called the conference and was supporting the anti-war effort, with particular focus on the growing crisis of the poorest people in the U.S., lack of funding for schools and increasing attacks on civil liberties through the Department of Homeland Security.

Outside the hall in the tourist centre that is Fisherman’s Wharf of San Francisco, one could see significant numbers of beggars. Indeed, one man whom I met, who was collecting money for soup kitchens, told me that most of the people who were living rough and were making use of the soup kitchens were ex-soldiers. As if to drive the point home, ABC News reported last Saturday that 100,000 U.S. combatants in Iraq were now seeking psychiatric help at home—victims of the war just as much as everybody else.

The speakers at the conference included Cindy Sheehan, who is famous for her camp outside the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas, and her worldwide campaigning despite her terrible personal loss in Iraq. She personifies the disappointment of many in the United States who voted Democrat in the mid-term elections to wrest control of both the House and the Senate from Bush’s clutches, only to find that, despite votes for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops, Congress has nevertheless gone on to provide Bush with the funds to maintain an occupation of Iraq.

Clarence Thomas, not to be confused with his ultra-conservative namesake in the Supreme Court, but the organizer of the million-plus march in Washington, spoke for many in the black community when he highlighted education and achievement problems, the disproportionate number of blacks in the armed services and the declining living standards of many of the poorest people to pay for a war that is now running into many billions of dollars.

The international flavor of the event was also emphasized by a delegation from the Japanese Railway Workers Union, who described their struggle against privatization and their contribution to try to prevent the militarization of Japan.

The conference was an organization of working-class activists, mainly from the west coast of the U.S., and included a very well-received speech calling for an amnesty for migrant workers to grant them legal status in the U.S. and a very powerful speech from the president of the Oakland Education Association Betty Olson-Jones, who described on behalf of teachers the shortage of funding in schools, again linked to the war.

To many outside the United States, the lack of a public health-care system has always been a cause of bemusement. It was not surprising that one of the campaigns that was represented there was for a proposition of the establishment of a fully funded public health-care system—an exciting development and a far cry from the infamous proposition 13 to cut public taxation which originally propelled Reagan to the U.S. presidency.

The war in Vietnam ended with the loss of a million lives in Vietnam, 55,000 U.S. soldiers’ dead and many thousands more who later committed suicide at home. It is too easy to draw complete parallels with Vietnam, but the cost, loss of life and anger that is being created at home in the U.S. should not be forgotten and is fuelling a major part of the worldwide anti-war movement.

The Turkish parliament voted to send troops across the border into northern Iraq at the weekend despite the entreaties of the United States and many other countries.

The regular bombardment of alleged Kurdish positions in northern Iraq has intensified as the Turkish army moves thousands of troops along the border.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is now putting pressure on the administrations in Baghdad and Irbil to do the job of the Turkish forces for them by attacking Turkish Kurdish positions in Iraq.

Amid all the self-righteous indignation on the part of the U.S. and the governments of Turkey and Iraq, the situation facing many Kurdish people in southeastern Turkey seems to have been forgotten. Full recognition of language and political rights has not yet been won and repeated ceasefires by the PKK have not been followed up with political dialogue by either the government of Turkey or the international community.

Perhaps, instead of heading into another awful conflict, we should look at the underlying causes of Kurdish discontent in south-eastern Turkey and recognize that, unless those rights of expression, assembly and organization are observed, all the fulminating in the world from Rice will not bring about peace or justice.

Jeremy Corbyn is Labor MP for Islington North. He can be contacted at corbynj@parliament.uk

Labor Conference To Stop The War

Jeremy Corbyn At SF Labor Conference To Stop The War
https://archive.org/details/Johnp-LaborConferenceToStopTheWar477

—October 24, 2007

Labor leaders gather in Ssn Francisco to oppose Iraq war
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/10/20/MN0GSTIOK.DT... ^
Posted on October 20, 2007 at 3:29:52 PM PDT by World_Events

Labor leaders from around the world gathered in San Francisco today to call on workers to stand up and take organized action against war in Iraq, saying that politicians can't be counted on to halt the bloodshed.

Several speakers cited the civil rights movement of the 1950s and the anti-Vietnam War movement of the 1960s as models to follow, saying that both achieved change that would not have occurred if matters had been left in the hands of those running the country.

"Until people get off their asses and do something, there won't be a change," Clarence Thomas, past secretary-treasurer of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 and a third-generation ILWU member, told the audience at the local's hall near Fishermen's Wharf.

Jeremy Corbyn, a Labour Party member of Parliament in Britain, cited the staggering number of civilian deaths in the Iraq war and the thousands of returning soldiers who have needed psychiatric care to deal with what they faced during battles in that country.

Corbyn told the audience of about 150 labor officials that the war in Iraq is "a disaster of the grandest scale possible for the people of Iraq and the rest of us."

Thomas, whose local and ILWU local 34 co-hosted the conference, and other speakers said that leaders at the conference should go back to their unions and begin a dialogue resulting in concrete actions that highlight their opposition to the war.

Several speakers mentioned that while billions of dollars funnel into the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, there are urgent needs for health care, education, disaster relief and housing that go unmet or underfunded.

2007 Labor Conference To Stop The War And Jeremy Corbyn At ILWU Local 10 on December 27, 2017

2007 Labor Conference To Stop The War

https://sites.google.com/site/laborstopwar/laborconferencetostopthewar

October 20, 2007 at 9:00 am

ILWU Local 10 at 400 North Point St.

San Francisco, California 94133

As the war in Iraq and Afghanistan enters its seventh year, opposition to the war among working people in the United States and the world is massive and growing. The “surge” strategy of sending in more and more troops has become a fiasco for the Pentagon generals, while thousands of Iraqis are killed every month. Before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, millions marched against the war in Britain, Italy and Spain as hundreds of thousands took to the streets in the U.S. to oppose it. But that didn’t stop the invasion. In the U.S., this “war on terror” has meant wholesale assault on civil liberties and workers’ rights, like the impending imposition of the hated TWIC card for port workers. And the war keeps going on and on, as Democrats and Republicans in Congress keep on voting for it.

As historian Isaac Deutscher said during the Vietnam War, a single strike would be more effective than all the peace marches. French dockworkers did strike in the port of Marseilles and helped bring an end to the war in Vietnam. To put a stop to this bloody colonial occupation, labor must use its power.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union has opposed the war on Iraq since the beginning. In the Bay Area, ILWU Local 10 has repeatedly warned that the so-called “war on terror” is really a war on working people and democratic rights. Around the country, hundreds of unions and labor councils have passed motions condemning the war, but that has not stopped the war. We need to use labor’s muscle to stop the war by mobilizing union power in the streets, at the plant gates and on the docks to force the immediate and total withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.

The clock is ticking. It’s time for labor action to bring the war machine to a grinding halt and end this slaughter. During longshore contract negotiations in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, Bush cited port security and imposed the slave-labor Taft-Hartley Law against the ILWU in collusion with the maritime employers group PMA and with the support of the Democrats. Yet, he did nothing when PMA shut down every port on the U.S. West Coast by locking out longshore workers just the week before!

In April 2003, when antiwar protesters picketed war cargo shippers, APL and SSA, in the Port of Oakland, police fired on picketers and longshoremen alike with their “less than lethal” ammo that left six ILWU members and many others seriously injured. We refused to let our rights be trampled on, sued the city and won. Democratic rights were reasserted a month later when antiwar protesters marched in the port and all shipping was stopped. This past May, when antiwar protesters and the Oakland Education Association again picketed war cargo shippers in Oakland, longshoremen honored the picket line. This is only the beginning.

Last year, Local 10 passed a resolution calling to “Strike Against the War – No Peace, No Work.” The motion emphasized the ILWU’s proud history in opposing wars for imperial domination, recalling how in 1978 Local 10 refused to load bombs for the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. In the 1980’s, Bay Area dock workers highlighted opposition to South African apartheid slavery by boycotting (“hot cargoing”) the Nedlloyd Kimberly, while South African workers waged militant strikes to bring down the white supremacist regime.

Now Locals 10 and 34 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have called for a “Labor Conference to Stop the War” to hammer out a program of action. We’re saying: Enough! It’s high time to use union power against the bosses’ war, independent of the “bipartisan” war party. The ILWU can again take the lead, but action against the war should not be limited to the docks. We urge unions in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout the country to attend the conference and plan workplace rallies, labor mobilizations in the streets and strike action against the war.

Tags: Jeremy CorbyILWU Local 10imperialismWarsolidarityWar On Iraq
Categories: Labor News

ILWU Local 10 President Edwin Ferris speaks out against corporate greed and the Vallejo ORCEM/VMT project & ILWU Local 10 Sec Treasurer Derrick Muhammad On “Blood Money"

Thu, 06/08/2017 - 21:19

ILWU Local 10 President Edwin Ferris speaks out against corporate greed and the Vallejo ORCEM/VMT project And ILWU Local 10 Sec Treasurer Derrick Muhammad On “Blood Money"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIVqsWSb23w
APublished on Jun 1, 2017
This is the powerful 2-minute statement from Edwin Ferris, President, Int’l Longshore & Warehouse Union, Local 10, at the May 30, 2017, City Council of Vallejo meeting. He spoke on the long history of ILWU in the Bay Area on- and off-loading ships, barges and rail cars. He told the City Council neither VMT or Orcem had ever contacted them. But stated that this detail was secondary to health of the vulnerable.
The people of Vallejo thank the ILWU-10 for their work on our behalf. And the volunteers of Fresh Air Vallejo would like to thank all of the organizations who have endorsed our research and eduction efforts for the past 20 months. Other great speakers on May 30th included the Sierra Club, Audubon Society, Migrante Napa-Solano and Voices of Vallejo as well as almost 100 individuals. To view the entire proceeding, please click on the City link and scroll down to the meeting date. Public comment start at 7pm and lasted until 11:30pm.
ILWU 10 Union voices opposition to Vallego VMT/Orcem project
http://www.timesheraldonline.com/…/…/20170510/NEWS/170519987
Edwin Ferris, president of the San Francisco-based International Longshore and Warehouse Union 10, speaks during a Wednesday morning news conference. Ferris announced the union is opposed to the Vallejo Marine Terminal and Orcem Americas project proposed for development in south Vallejo. Residents opposed to the project stand behind Ferris. John Glidden — Times-Herald
By John Glidden, Vallejo Times-Herald
POSTED: 05/10/17, 6:08 PM PDT | UPDATED: 3 WEEKS, 6 DAYS AGO0 COMMENTS
A citizen group opposed to a proposed project in south Vallejo picked up support Wednesday from the San Francisco-based International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) 10.
About 45 people met outside the locked gates of the old General Mills flour mill on Derr Street to hear the union’s official position regarding the Vallejo Marine Terminal and Orcem Americas project.
“We’re against this proposed project because it endangers the local community,” said Edwin Ferris, president of ILWU Local 10, during a morning news conference. “It will absolutely not bring good paying union jobs.”
Ferris said it was “irresponsible” to open a modern deep-water terminal and an industrial facility producing cement on the 32-acre site.
“The planning commission got it right, 6-1,” he added, causing several in attendance to start clapping and shout ‘yes’ in response.
The commission in early March denied the proposal, citing “quality of life” concerns.
Also in attendance was Solano County Supervisor Monica Brown.
Brown, who represents the area, expressed concern, especially since Grace Patterson Elementary is within a quarter mile of the project.
“This is a gem area, let’s do something positive with it,” she said.
Brown said she’d like to see dorm rooms built for the California State University Maritime Academy or a stadium for the Vallejo Admirals, the city’s professional baseball team.
Peter Brooks, president of Fresh Air Vallejo, the group opposed to the project, said the proposal, most notably the cement facility, will harm nearby residents.
“This community is primarily a minority neighborhood, a low-income neighborhood, already suffering from twice the state average of asthma,” Brooks said.
He said the facility will release a significant amount of dust and other particulate matter which will harm people with asthma.
“Vallejo is open for good, clean business — that employs lots of people,” he added. “That makes Vallejo proud, that doesn’t make Vallejo sick.”
Meanwhile, Jon Riley, executive director of the Napa/Solano Central Labor Council said he wants to see the city offer a fair process to the VMT/Orcem applicants.
Both applicants and supporters of the project have continually asked City Hall to certify a Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR).
He also responded to the idea of putting another use at the site.
“No matter what they do with this facility, there is going to be vehicles and truck traffic,” Riley said.
Reached by phone later in the day, Steve Bryan, president of Orcem Americas, expressed surprise at Ferris’ comments. Bryan said those employed with the businesses will receive a “good wage.”
Late last year, Bryan and Danny Bernardini, business manager of the Napa Solano Building & Construction Trades Council, announced the two sides had reached a project labor agreement.
The PLA stipulates a prevailing wage, allows the council to handle any grievances, and determines how local members will be dispatched during the construction of the facility, Bernardini said last December.
Orcem also agreed to card check neutrality with its employees. Such an agreement stipulates an employer will recognize a union as the official bargaining agent for employees.
Bryan said he would like to see a certified FEIR, as well.
“A lot of people out there are confused,” he said. “A certified impact report will help people understand the project better.”
After the planning commission decision, VMT/Orcem filed an appeal.
The Vallejo City Council will meet on Tuesday, May 30 and Thursday, June 1 to hear the appeal. Both meetings are scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m., with a tentative ending time of about 11 p.m., city officials confirmed recently.
Contact John Glidden at (707) 553-6832.

ILWU Local 10 Secretary Treasurer On “Blood Money”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkKkWChRQ6A

Published on May 31, 2017
This is the 3-minute statement from Derrick Muhammad, Int’l Longshore & Warehouse Union, Local 10 Secretary and Treasurer, at the May 30, 2017, City Council of Vallejo meeting. A beautifully written speech that not only targets what we need to do now to stop the proposed VMT/Orcem private port and cement project—but also the problems we need to solve next for South Vallejo: Air, Food, Schools, Housing.

The people of Vallejo thank the ILWU-10 for their work on our behalf. And the volunteers of Fresh Air Vallejo would like to thank all of the organizations who have endorsed our research and eduction efforts for the past 20 months. Other great speakers on May 30th included the Sierra Club, Audubon Society, Migrante Napa-Sola

ILWU Local 10 President Edwin Ferris speaks out against corporate greed and the ORCEM/VMT project
This is the powerful 2-minute statement from Edwin Ferris, President, Int’l Longshore & Warehouse…
YOUTUBE.COM
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<936306_469941089744392_1667780729_n.jpg>International Labor Media Network
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Tags: ilwucorporate greedVallejoORCEM/VMT Project
Categories: Labor News

ILWU Local 10 President Edwin Ferris speaks out against corporate greed and the Vallejo ORCEM/VMT project & ILWU Local 10 Sec Treasurer Derrick Muhammad On “Blood Money"

Thu, 06/08/2017 - 21:19

ILWU Local 10 President Edwin Ferris speaks out against corporate greed and the Vallejo ORCEM/VMT project And ILWU Local 10 Sec Treasurer Derrick Muhammad On “Blood Money"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIVqsWSb23w
APublished on Jun 1, 2017
This is the powerful 2-minute statement from Edwin Ferris, President, Int’l Longshore & Warehouse Union, Local 10, at the May 30, 2017, City Council of Vallejo meeting. He spoke on the long history of ILWU in the Bay Area on- and off-loading ships, barges and rail cars. He told the City Council neither VMT or Orcem had ever contacted them. But stated that this detail was secondary to health of the vulnerable.
The people of Vallejo thank the ILWU-10 for their work on our behalf. And the volunteers of Fresh Air Vallejo would like to thank all of the organizations who have endorsed our research and eduction efforts for the past 20 months. Other great speakers on May 30th included the Sierra Club, Audubon Society, Migrante Napa-Solano and Voices of Vallejo as well as almost 100 individuals. To view the entire proceeding, please click on the City link and scroll down to the meeting date. Public comment start at 7pm and lasted until 11:30pm.
ILWU 10 Union voices opposition to Vallego VMT/Orcem project
http://www.timesheraldonline.com/…/…/20170510/NEWS/170519987
Edwin Ferris, president of the San Francisco-based International Longshore and Warehouse Union 10, speaks during a Wednesday morning news conference. Ferris announced the union is opposed to the Vallejo Marine Terminal and Orcem Americas project proposed for development in south Vallejo. Residents opposed to the project stand behind Ferris. John Glidden — Times-Herald
By John Glidden, Vallejo Times-Herald
POSTED: 05/10/17, 6:08 PM PDT | UPDATED: 3 WEEKS, 6 DAYS AGO0 COMMENTS
A citizen group opposed to a proposed project in south Vallejo picked up support Wednesday from the San Francisco-based International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) 10.
About 45 people met outside the locked gates of the old General Mills flour mill on Derr Street to hear the union’s official position regarding the Vallejo Marine Terminal and Orcem Americas project.
“We’re against this proposed project because it endangers the local community,” said Edwin Ferris, president of ILWU Local 10, during a morning news conference. “It will absolutely not bring good paying union jobs.”
Ferris said it was “irresponsible” to open a modern deep-water terminal and an industrial facility producing cement on the 32-acre site.
“The planning commission got it right, 6-1,” he added, causing several in attendance to start clapping and shout ‘yes’ in response.
The commission in early March denied the proposal, citing “quality of life” concerns.
Also in attendance was Solano County Supervisor Monica Brown.
Brown, who represents the area, expressed concern, especially since Grace Patterson Elementary is within a quarter mile of the project.
“This is a gem area, let’s do something positive with it,” she said.
Brown said she’d like to see dorm rooms built for the California State University Maritime Academy or a stadium for the Vallejo Admirals, the city’s professional baseball team.
Peter Brooks, president of Fresh Air Vallejo, the group opposed to the project, said the proposal, most notably the cement facility, will harm nearby residents.
“This community is primarily a minority neighborhood, a low-income neighborhood, already suffering from twice the state average of asthma,” Brooks said.
He said the facility will release a significant amount of dust and other particulate matter which will harm people with asthma.
“Vallejo is open for good, clean business — that employs lots of people,” he added. “That makes Vallejo proud, that doesn’t make Vallejo sick.”
Meanwhile, Jon Riley, executive director of the Napa/Solano Central Labor Council said he wants to see the city offer a fair process to the VMT/Orcem applicants.
Both applicants and supporters of the project have continually asked City Hall to certify a Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR).
He also responded to the idea of putting another use at the site.
“No matter what they do with this facility, there is going to be vehicles and truck traffic,” Riley said.
Reached by phone later in the day, Steve Bryan, president of Orcem Americas, expressed surprise at Ferris’ comments. Bryan said those employed with the businesses will receive a “good wage.”
Late last year, Bryan and Danny Bernardini, business manager of the Napa Solano Building & Construction Trades Council, announced the two sides had reached a project labor agreement.
The PLA stipulates a prevailing wage, allows the council to handle any grievances, and determines how local members will be dispatched during the construction of the facility, Bernardini said last December.
Orcem also agreed to card check neutrality with its employees. Such an agreement stipulates an employer will recognize a union as the official bargaining agent for employees.
Bryan said he would like to see a certified FEIR, as well.
“A lot of people out there are confused,” he said. “A certified impact report will help people understand the project better.”
After the planning commission decision, VMT/Orcem filed an appeal.
The Vallejo City Council will meet on Tuesday, May 30 and Thursday, June 1 to hear the appeal. Both meetings are scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m., with a tentative ending time of about 11 p.m., city officials confirmed recently.
Contact John Glidden at (707) 553-6832.

ILWU Local 10 Secretary Treasurer On “Blood Money”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkKkWChRQ6A

Published on May 31, 2017
This is the 3-minute statement from Derrick Muhammad, Int’l Longshore & Warehouse Union, Local 10 Secretary and Treasurer, at the May 30, 2017, City Council of Vallejo meeting. A beautifully written speech that not only targets what we need to do now to stop the proposed VMT/Orcem private port and cement project—but also the problems we need to solve next for South Vallejo: Air, Food, Schools, Housing.

The people of Vallejo thank the ILWU-10 for their work on our behalf. And the volunteers of Fresh Air Vallejo would like to thank all of the organizations who have endorsed our research and eduction efforts for the past 20 months. Other great speakers on May 30th included the Sierra Club, Audubon Society, Migrante Napa-Sola

ILWU Local 10 President Edwin Ferris speaks out against corporate greed and the ORCEM/VMT project
This is the powerful 2-minute statement from Edwin Ferris, President, Int’l Longshore & Warehouse…
YOUTUBE.COM
Boost Post
<936306_469941089744392_1667780729_n.jpg>International Labor Media Network
LikeShow more reactionsComment

Tags: ilwucorporate greedVallejoORCEM/VMT Project
Categories: Labor News

Spanish Dockworker Strike Disrupts Ports and Trade Routes

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 17:09

Spanish Dockworker Strike Disrupts Ports and Trade Routes
http://gcaptain.com/spanish-dockworker-strike-disrupts-ports-and-trade-r...
June 5, 2017 by Reuters

port of Algeciras maersk
Maersk containership seen off the port of Algeciras, Spain. File Photo: Port of Algeciras/Juan G. Mata
MADRID, June 5 (Reuters) – Some of Spain’s biggest port terminals came to a standstill on Monday as shipping companies redirected cargos to avoid a dockers’ strike.

After months of talks between unions, companies and the Spanish government over a reform of port hiring practices, dockers held the first of several planned strikes to protest against possible job losses.

Some container shipping firms such as Maersk re-routed boats destined for the southern port of Algeciras to get around the strike, during which dockers will stop working every other hour on Monday, Wednesday and Friday this week.

Alternative destinations used by firms included Portugal, Morocco and Malta.

Five further days of industrial action have also been called for next week, raising the prospect that the shift to rival ports could have lasting consequences, especially for those handling merchandise not ultimately destined for Spain.

“Let me tell you, eight days of strikes will completely shatter the port of Algeciras,” Manuel Moron, who heads up the port authority there, wrote in a colum, in EuropaSur local newspaper on Monday.

Algeciras is a trans-shipment hub used by firms to unload cargo and redistribute it onto other boats heading elsewhere in Europe or the Middle East.

An Algericas terminal operated by APM, which belongs to the Maersk Group, had ground to a halt on Monday as there were no ships, a port spokeswoman said. A second smaller terminal was operating during the hours between the strike.

Valencia, on the eastern Mediterranean coast and the biggest export and import port in Spain, was functioning during the appointed hours, a spokesman said.

Spanish companies adjusted their production strategies, staggering exports or speeding them up before the strike, to limit the knock-on effects on their business. About two thirds of Spain’s imports and exports, a key element of the recovering economy, are moved through the country’s docks.

Seat, part of German carmaker Volkswagen and which has a big plant near Barcelona’s port, had already shipped out vehicles as soon as they were ready to avoid a build-up in cars waiting to be exported, a source at the company said.

The government said minimum services were being upheld at ports to ensure perishable goods such as fruit and vegetables were getting through and passenger services were not disrupted.

The ports reform, which aims to crack down on closed-shop hiring in a heavily unionised sector as demanded by the European Union, was passed through parliament in mid-May after a series of setbacks and clashes between political parties.

Workers broke off subsequent talks with port representatives over how to implement the new law in a disagreement over safeguarding more than 6,000 docker jobs. (Reporting by Sarah White, Angus Berwick and Madrid TV; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Tags: Spanish Dockworkers Strikederegulation
Categories: Labor News

‘Blue Collar Green Water’: The Art of Working on S.F. Bay Ferries A Photography Exhibit At Pier 1

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 10:14

‘Blue Collar Green Water’: The Art of Working on S.F. Bay Ferries A Photography Exhibit At Pier 1
https://vimeo.com/183445426
https://ww2.kqed.org/news/2017/05/04/blue-collar-green-water-ferry-worke...

"Forever," by Blue & Gold Fleet deckhand Vince Atos. (Courtesy of Blue Collar Green Water)

https://ww2.kqed.org/news/2017/05/04/blue-collar-green-water-ferry-worke...

‘Blue Collar Green Water’: The Art of Working on S.F. Bay Ferries
By Dan Brekke
MAY 4, 2017

Commuting on Bay Area ferries might not be quite the perfect experience it used to be. Mostly because, like other ways of getting to and from work in this booming region, you’re going to find bigger crowds than ever.

But if you look up from your iPhone or laptop once the boat’s left the dock, you’ll find yourself in direct contact with the always unfolding drama of San Francisco Bay — the changing light, surging water and expansive vistas of bridges, skylines, shipping and, yes, even nature.

The people who experience this drama more often and more intimately than anyone else are those who work on the boats. To give the rest of us a glimpse of their world and how they see it, one group of workers is putting on a photo exhibition opening Friday at San Francisco’s Pier 1.

The “Blue Collar Green Water” show features juried work from deckhands, guest service reps, bartenders, captains and others who work for the Blue & Gold Fleet. That’s the company that operates the San Francisco Bay Ferry service under contract with the Water Emergency Transportation Authority. It’s also known for its tourist cruises from San Francisco’s Pier 41.

Rebecca Johnson, an Oakland native who’s been a deckhand on the bay for 20 years, is the moving spirit behind “Blue Collar Green Water.” The idea was inspired by the pictures she saw other ferry workers taking every day on the job.

“Working on the bay, you see it so many different ways,” she says. “You see it cold and foggy, you see it sunny and bright. And so I thought, why not find a way to share these photos with each other and with the people who don’t know what our jobs are.”

When she suggested a group photo project to her fellow workers a couple of years ago, she found lots of excitement. Out of that, a collective was formed to invite submissions from Blue & Gold crew members, design a website and produce a promotional video. A panel that included local professional photographers was created to judge the submissions for the exhibit.

Someone else really liked the “Blue Collar Green Water” idea, too: company management. Johnson brought her plan for a photo exhibition to Carolyn Horgan, then Blue & Gold’s president.

The project allowed workers from the fleet’s different units and unions to work together on something. The proposed show also fits in with a company goal.

“The thing that really appealed to me about it is that Blue & Gold was working hard on employee engagement,” Horgan says. “And this would be the ultimate of employee engagement.”

But there was more to it than that. Horgan, who is now retired, says the pictures in the show highlight the skill and grace involved in operating a fleet that carries millions of passengers each year.

“It’s just people doing something — tasks that I saw a lot, but other people maybe are not as familiar with, even tying up a boat,” Horgan says. There’s a beauty in something as simple as a deckhand “taking a line and putting it around a cleat.”

“Pastel,” by Joe Lovett. (Courtesy of "Blue Collar Green Water")
Johnson says the show has another point, too. At a time when unions and recognition of the importance of blue-collar work have become topics of national conversation, the exhibit showcases the humanity and pride of those who labor on the bay.

“I would love for people to just know that the workers on these ferries — they’re union workers, and they’re getting wages that allow them to live in the Bay Area,” Johnson says. “And why not? It should be this way.”

“Blue Collar Green Water” will be on display at Pier 1 on San Francisco’s Embarcadero, next to the Ferry Building, through May 31.

Dan Brekke is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area's transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.

Since joining KQED in 2007, Dan has reported, edited and produced both radio and online features and breaking news pieces. He has shared in two Society of Professional Journalists Norcal Excellence in Journalism awards — for his 2012 reporting on a KQED Science series on water and power in California, and in 2014, for KQED's comprehensive reporting on the south Napa earthquake.

In addition to his 44 years of on-the-job education, Dan is a lifelong student of history and is still pursuing an undergraduate degree.

Email Dan at: dbrekke@kqed.org

Twitter: twitter.com/danbrekke
Facebook: www.facebook.com/danbrekke
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/danbrekke

Tags: IBUFerry Boat WorkersBlue And Goldphotographers
Categories: Labor News

In Uber era, Chicago’s taxicab industry disappearing, study finds

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 08:44

In Uber era, Chicago’s taxicab industry disappearing, study finds
http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/chicagos-taxicab-industry-disappearing-...

CHICAGO NEWS 06/02/2017, 08:45am
Fran Spielman
@fspielman | email
Chicago cabdrivers struggling to survive in the Uber era are fighting a losing battle, with 40 percent of all medallions “inactive” and hundreds more either in foreclosure or headed there, a new study shows.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2500 represents hundreds of cabdrivers and is continuing to organize the others.

To bolster its case, the union asked statistician James Bradach of Nonprofit Data and Applications to analyze countless pieces of information disjointedly made available in on the city’s data portal.

His report, “Run Off the Road: Chicago’s Taxi Medallion Foreclosure Crisis,” shows a surge in medallion foreclosures and a precipitous drop in both taxicab trips and driver income in the three years since City Hall created an unlevel regulatory playing field between taxis and ride-hailing.

The study’s findings include:

227,033 ride-hailing vehicles registered with the city as of April competing with 6,999 taxi medallions.
The number of “monthly taxi trips” on the streets of Chicago has dropped by 52 percent over the last three years — from 2.3 million to 1.1 million.
774 medallions have been “surrendered to the city at some point,” with 579 more receiving foreclosure notices and 107 lawsuits filed since October.
2,940 taxis or 42 percent of the city’s 6,999 taxi medallions were classified as “inactive” in March after having failed to pick up a single passenger in the previous month. That means those licenses face “imminent foreclosure in the coming months,” the study says. In March, 2014, 16 percent of medallions were inactive.
Average monthly gross income for every one of the city’s active taxicab medallions has fallen over the last three years — from $5,276 to $3,206.
Cabdrivers who were eking out a $19,000 annual living after expenses in 2013 are now operating $4,000 in the red. That’s because their $44,000 in annual expenses have remained the same while business has plummeted.
39 percent of the city’s taxicab medallions are owned by small business with four or fewer licenses.
To keep a shrinking taxicab industry from disappearing altogether, AFSCME Local 2500 is demanding what it calls “comprehensive reform.”

Specifically, the union wants the City Council to: Eliminate the vehicle age limit so long as the cab can pass inspection; waive the ground transportation tax for struggling drivers; and eliminate the medallion license renewal fee.

The union is further demanding that City Hall: “Enact protections for lease drivers in the event of a fleet bankruptcy; reinstate the lottery for city-owned medallions to reduce operating costs for lease drivers; strengthen foreclosure protections in the city medallion owner rules; and eliminate “regulatory barriers” standing in the way of a “driver-to-passenger taxi ehail app” that competes with Uber and Lyft.

Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), chairman of the City Council’s Transportation Committee, said the AFSCME study underscores his biggest fears.

“I’ve said all along that the system was stacked against the cab industry and that allowing Uber and Lyft to come in unregulated put the entire cab industry at a disadvantage,” Beale said.

“In five to seven years, you’re gonna have autonomous vehicles and no people working. All you’re gonna have left is driverless vehicles,” he said. “We need to fight for jobs and keep people employed. If we allow technology to put people out of work while the fat cats at the top make millions, the whole economy as we know it is gonna collapse. The road we’re going down is going to eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs that people are out here trying to make a living. You see it happening.”

John Aikins is one of those people.

He and his wife own two medallions, one of them purchased for $330,000 just five years ago, when cab licenses were still a “hot commodity.”

When the bubble burst, they couldn’t find a dependable driver for the second medallion and fell behind on their loans. After failing in their attempts to seek a loan modification, the lender filed suit to foreclose against them. With three children, the couple had no choice but to file for bankruptcy.

“Things are really bad. If you don’t go to the airport and wait three hours to get a fare, it’s very difficult to find fares in the city because there are so many ride-share cars. I’ve driven all the way from Belmont to Chestnut downtown and nobody flags me down,” Aikins said Thursday.

“I have three college-age children. One is thinking of moving from the dorm next semester,” he said. “Once the bankruptcy goes through, it’s going to be very hard to get any student loans for him. Fortunately, his school is not too far from where he live. So he can commute until things stabilize.”

He added, “I don’t blame Uber or Lyft for coming in. But the city has been so unfair, it’s beyond belief. Ride-sharing companies come in and the city didn’t do anything [while] we are following the same stringent rules and regulations and taxes.”

Veteran cabdriver Gilbert Uranta purchased his medallion in 2006 and still owes more than $260,000. But he hasn’t been able to make a payment on the loan for six months.

While waiting for the ax to fall in the form of a foreclosure lawsuit, the father of three has finally scheduled the knee replacement surgery he has been putting off because it will sideline him for three months.

“I’m not saying they shouldn’t have Uber. But there are too many of Uber. When you have more than 200,000 Ubers competing with 7,000 cabs, it’s difficult to make money. I start work at 4 a.m. By 7 p.m, I’m still on the street. I can’t can’t make enough money if I work 10 hours,” Uranta said.

“Things are not like what they used to be. I can’t take my kids on vacation like I used to,” he said. “I just have to make sure we survive by working extra hours. My own self with my wife — there are so many things we cannot do. We have to put the kids first.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court dealt the struggling taxicab industry what appeared to be a final blow.

By refusing to hear the taxi industry’s appeal, the nation’s highest court let stand a federal appeals court ruling last fall that snuffed out an attempt by the cab companies to level what they called an uneven playing field that favors Uber, whose investors include Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s brother.

The appeals court ruling essentially said that the business models between taxis and ride-hailing services are different and, therefore, they can continue to operate under different sets of rules in Chicago.

Tags: Uberderegulationindependent contractors
Categories: Labor News

Spanish dockworker unions Coordinadora Estatal de Trabajadores del Mar (Coordinadora) have launched today a nation-wide strike impacting operations across the country’s ports.

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 14:09

Spanish dockworker unions Coordinadora Estatal de Trabajadores del Mar (Coordinadora) have launched today a nation-wide strike impacting operations across the country’s ports.

https://worldmaritimenews.com/archives/221930/spanish-ports-hit-by-natio...
According to the representatives of the Coordinadora Estatal de Trabajadores del Mar (Coordinadora), a Spanish dockworkers union, almost 100 percent of workers supported the strike.

The workers are demanding that companies keep their employees and maintain the same working-conditions after the implementation of the port-reform.

Until now, the workers were hired through local stevedoring societies known as Sociedad Anonima de Gestion de Estibadores Portuarios (SAGEP). However, the new law would enable ports to hire non-unionized dockworkers instead of the unionized ones, potentially resulting in massive layoffs.

During today’s press conference, the union representatives said that, in their opinion, the main culprit for the ongoing situation is the government that put the companies in a privileged position.

At the moment, all dockworkers have an indefinite contract with their companies. Nevertheless, under the new regime, the companies would be given a choice to decide whether to keep them as employees or not.

During the recent talks between the union and Anesco, port employers’ association, the latter could not guarantee the security of 100 percent of those jobs, which prompted the stevedores to go ahead with their strike plans for this week.

The country’s ports could suffer considerable drop in traffic as shipping companies divert their cargo elsewhere due to strikes. Port statistics show that the port of Algeciras, the busiest in Spain, experienced a drop of 5.98 per cent in traffic so far in 2017.

Last week, Danish shipping major Maersk Line said that its latest fleet addition, the 20,568 TEU Madrid Maersk, would be omitting the port of Algeciras. Instead, the cargo would be discharged in Port Tangier for further connection to Algeciras.

The company’s ST Illinois will omit Algeciras APMT on June 6 and cargo will be discharged in Barcelona, while MSC Illona, employed on M2 TA5 service will omit Algeciras APMT and cargo on board will be discharge in Sines. Export cargo will be rolled to the next vessel voyage, Maersk Line added.

Reacting to the announcement, the International Dockworkers Council (IDC) asked “that all IDC members be aware of ships that may be diverted from Spain, and to not work accept these ships in their ports.”

“IDC will heed the strike advisory and will remain alert- with their full attention- in order to follow new developments of the Spanish situation. We will alert our IDC members to any future developments.

IDC will continue to support dockworkers everywhere in their struggle, and iterates their steadfast commitment to Coordinadora, who has demonstrated- yet again- strength in unity,” IDC said.

“This dispute is representative of the worldwide attack on dockers and of union busting efforts dressed up as ‘progressive reform’. Port liberalisation of this kind is short sighted and damaging and we won’t accept it. We encourage all of our affiliates to take every action within the legal framework of their country to support Spanish dockers whenever requested by our Spanish brothers and sisters,” ITF president and dockers’ section chair Paddy Crumlin said.

The latest round of strikes is planned to be held on 5th, 7th and 9th of June for 12 hours. Further rounds of strikes are likely to follow should the stakeholders fail to reach a deal on the continuation of negotiations on the matter.

As informed by Maersk, as a result of strikes, gates opening will be subjected to yard’s congestion, and under this scenario regular opening timetable is not guaranteed.

World Maritime News Staff

Tags: Spanish DockworkersstrikeCoordinadora Estatal de Trabajadores del Mar (Coordinadora)
Categories: Labor News

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