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12/10 SF Forum- FedEx Murder For Profit: Health And Safety, OSHA And Trump's Nominee FedEx VP Scott Mugno

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 16:45

12/10 SF Forum- FedEx Murder For Profit: Health And Safety, OSHA And Trump's Nominee FedEx VP Scott Mugno
Our Lives and Health and Safety

Speakers:
Gary Brent FedEx Health and Safety officer and Driver Trainer
Matthew Zugsberger, UBC 34 Diver and OSHA Whistleblower at Park Service
Other Speakers

December 10, 2017 2:00 PM
Bernal Heights Library
500 Cortland Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94110

President Trump has nominated FedEx Scott Mugno who is VP for Safety, Sustainability and Vehicle Maintenance at FedEx Ground. There have been over hundreds of deaths of FedEx workers in the last 15 years. Scott Mugno has also personally retaliated against health and safety whistleblowers like Guy Cobb in Memphis, TN. who exposed serious potential dangers of an earthquake at FedEx buildings. He was targeted, bullied and fired by FedEx. Another whistleblower was Brian Gruzulski who was a FedEx mechanic at LAX who saw serious safety problems from rust and was bullied, retaliated against and fired. Gary Brent was a health and safety officer and driver trainer at FedEx ground and when he tried to enforce OSHA and EPA rules he was harassed and terminated.

At the same time Scott Mugno was also a lobbyist for the American Trucking Association ATA and he was pushing for complete deregulation of trucking with an large increase in size of trucks threatening the public and the roads. What these whistleblowers also discovered was that FedEx had captured OSHA and other federal agencies like the EPA. Officials in these agencies colluded with the company to limit their liability and prevent them being held acceptable to the workers and the public.

This forum will look at what is happening at FedEx OSHA and also the case of OSHA whistleblower and UBC 34 diver Matthew Zugsberger who reported on serious health problems at a job at Drakes Estero Rack Removal. He reported health and safety hazards and was retaliated by the Park Service, his employer and OSHA officials who engaged in a cover-up of the illegal activity.

The issue of protecting health and safety whistleblowers is critical to all and fighting for their protection is critical to the public.

Sponsored by
WorkWeek Radio
United Public Workers For Action http://www.upwa.info
Workers Solidarity Action Network
https://www.facebook.com/workerssolidarityactionnetwork/
Injured Workers National Network
https://www.facebook.com/Injured-Workers-National-Network-IWNN-108362552...

Just Say No to Scott Mugno as OSHA Director-Fired Federal OSHA Whistleblower Darrell Whitman Speaks Out

FedEx Truck Accident History
https://www.frg-law.com/carriers/fedex/
In the 24-month period prior to December 3, 2017, FedEx Express drivers were reported to have been involved in 1762 crashes, 575 involving injuries, including 41 deaths. From 2012, the number of crashes has increased by 254.5%; the number of injuries has increased by 192%; and the number of fatalities has increased by 273%.

FedEx Worker Gary Brent Fired For Taking Pictures of Trailers and Trailers
http://askthetrucker.com/osha-awards-damages-for-fired-truck-driver/
I am a former FedEx Express Driver Instructor that was fired for taking pictures of unsafe FedEx Ground Trailers and FedEx Express Tractors and Trailers. I refused to use these unsafe FedEx Tractors and Trailers because, I would not violate any FMCSA Regulations. I
believed if FedEx terminated me for refusing to use this dangerous unsafe equipment, OSHA and The FMCSA would come to my aid, and was I wrong. I filed all the required Whistle Blower forms with the
local Fort Lauderdale, FL., OSHA Office. I also filed complaints with the TN and PA FMCSA against FedEx for violating FMCSA Regulations. I believed that OSHA was going to work closely with the FMCSA in TN and PA., because they administer a portions of the STAA Whistle Blower Act. What I leaned from dealing with Federal Agencies was, each agency will make up their own interpretations of
Federal Laws and try to dissuade you from pursuing your Whistle Blower Claim. The OSHA case worker I had in Fort Lauderdale didn’t
even want to review my pictures of the unsafe FedEx Vehicles and my complaints against FedEx with the PA and TN FMCSA. I had numerous documents and witnesses that OSHA wouldn’t even look at. OSHA in Fort Lauderdale ruled against me, so I appealed their decision through OSHA in Washington. I was told by the OSHA Appeals Office, that I would have to pay my witnesses air fare and lodging in my appeal. Is this a Government by and for the people?
A fellow Whistle Blower, Brian Gruzalski, Aircraft Mechanic at FedEx
has endured the same corruption by FedEx and the U.S. Government
that I have. OSHA, FMCSA and FAA are corrupt.

FedEx Casts Away Air Safety for Profits
https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/fedex-casts-away-air-safety-for...
Abrolat Law pc pursues safety violation allegations against FedEx

Dec 11, 2013, 11:11 ET from Abrolat Law pc

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently found FedEx Express (FedEx), the world's largest airline in terms of freight tons flown and the world's fourth largest airline in terms of fleet size, in violation of federal safety requirements. FedEx's fleet is primarily made-up of retired jetliners purchased at discount prices. The average FedEx jetliner is 20 to 40 years old. These older aircraft require significant ongoing work to ensure flightworthiness, and FedEx loses massive amounts in profit each day that one of its jetliners is on the ground for repair and maintenance.

Several Technicians from FedEx's Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) location have filed complaints with the FAA alleging that FedEx does not repair and maintain its aircraft consistent with FAA safety requirements.

These Technicians allege that FedEx knowingly falsified repair and maintenance records documenting work that was never actually performed and allowed jetliners to return to flight without necessary safety repairs and maintenance. The Technicians also contend that FedEx's safety violations resulted in FedEx aircraft flying across the United States with corrosion so extensive, that there were visible external cracks in the fuselage.

The FAA's investigation of the Technicians' complaints confirmed that FedEx has committed safety violations. Current FedEx employees contend that despite these FAA findings, FedEx has not changed its repair and maintenance practices and continues to place FedEx employees and the public at risk.

In a whistle-blower, wrongful termination lawsuit against FedEx filed this summer in Los Angeles Superior Court (Case No. BC512638), a former Technician at FedEx's LAX location, Brian Gruzalski, alleges that he repeatedly complained to FedEx about its practice of violating safety regulations. Gruzalski commented, "FedEx has been trying to cut corners to increase profits by simply not doing the required safety maintenance on very old planes." Gruzalski also claims that while employed, he observed FedEx impose unreasonable time limits on safety maintenance work: "It should be understood that maintenance on old, worn-out jetliners is going to take longer to properly repair than new planes."

According to the lawsuit, which is being pursued by Gruzalski and Abrolat Law to stop these practices, FedEx has retaliated against experienced, senior Technicians who complain about the safety violations, and ultimately fired Gruzalski due to his complaints.

Anyone with information relevant to our investigation is encouraged to call: 866-884-4228

Contact: Nancy Abrolat, Esq.

310-615-0008

JUST SAY NO TO THE MUGNO NOMINATION:
An Open Letter to Congress and the American People

By Darrell Whitmani

On December 5, the U.S. Senate will open hearings into President Trump’s nomination of Scott Mugno to be the Director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). It’s traditional to give a President the discretion to appoint whomever she/he wants to a federal office. However, there’s a reason Congress has a say in these appointments, which is to ensur the public interest is not put at jeopardy. The nomination of Scott Mungo is one of those where
Congress must just say no to protect the public interest.

In 1969, the Senate rejected the nomination of Clement Haynsworth to the U.S. Supreme Court, a federal court judge with a history of rulings hostile to labor and civil rights. Then in 1970, the Senate rejected the nomination of G. Harrold Carswell, a federal judge who had earlier supported
racial segregation. These two judges had deeply held beliefs which affected their conduct as federal judges, and they were rejected in spite of the tradition of deferring to Presidential
nominations, because they were out of step with national interests in race and social justice.

An appointment to direct OSHA is of the same caliber as an appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. While Supreme Court decisions carry great weight in setting national standards for rights and the protection, OSHA manages a key program in bringing those rights and protections to life
through its Whsitleblower Protection Program. This Program acts as the gate-keeper for 22 federal statutes which protect private sector employees who responsibly report threats to safety, health and financial security. When OSHA fails to ensure the Program works, bad things happen.
Some of these bad things include: OSHA’s failure for more than twenty years to timely inspect and enforce the regulations regarding fertilizer storage, which in 2013 led to a massive explosion in West, Texas which killed 15 people, twelve of whom were first-responder firemen; OSHA’s
failure in 2006 to report serious fraud in residential mortgage lending by Country-Wide Financial, which made a substantial contribution to the 2008-2009 financial meltdown; OSHA’s
repeated failures, beginning at least in 2010, to report consumer financial fraud by Wells Fargo, that led to victimizing at least 3.5 million bank customers and calls into question the regulation of the banking industry; and since the 1980s, OSHA’s practice of substantially discounting fines
issued to corporate scofflaws, which has contributed to a general belief among renegade companies that violations of safety, health, and financial security regulations carry no
consequences.

Scott Mungo comes to this OSHA appointment as a senior safety and health officer at Federal Express, and as a major figure advocating on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for lower regulatory protection. Workplace-based illnesses, injuries, and deaths have been rising, as has
fraud in the financial industry. Yet, OSHA’ response has been to water-down its reporting of work-place casualties, and step back from watch-dogging the financial industry. This argues
OSHA needs new, strong leadership rooted in the public interest, rather than a director who will accelerate its capture by scofflaw corporations. FedEx has been one of those scofflaw companies that have actively sought to undermine workplace, and thereby public, regulatory protection by
attacking employees who report violations of safety, health, and financial security regulations. Coming from this culture is hardly an endorsement of Mugno’s commitment to the public
interest.

The issue isn’t Scott Mungo per se, or the President’s right to determine nominations: it’s the national interests. As the nation’s primary gate-keeper for regulating the private sector through its WPP, OSHA plays a key role in regulatory governance. It’s inconceivable OSHA can carry out the mission of the WPP under the supervision of someone who’s a devoted opponent of regulation, and whose own history is tainted by a disregard for safety and health regulation. A
thorough vetting of the Mugno nomination is required, and that vetting should include testimony from present and former FedEx employees who know the real stories that don’t appear in FedEx’s public relations gambits. There is a long line of these employees waiting to testify, if the Senate chooses to know the facts and not just FedEx public relations. Once this larger picture is visible, Congress must then just say no to Mugno and yes to public safety to protect its own
integrity as well as that of OSHA and the federal regulatory system.

i Dr. Darrell Whitman is an attorney, scholar, union official, and former Regional Investigator working in OSHA’s
Whistleblower Protection Program. He was fired in May 2015 after publicly challenging corruption in the Program,
which he reported to the federal Office of Special Counsel. The OSC is currently considering an investigation of
OSHA and other federal agencies and officials to determine the extent of the corruption of the national regulatory
system.

(c)

Texas Family files wrongful death lawsuit in FedEx mechanic death at Lubbock airport

http://www.kcbd.com/story/36727763/family-files-wrongful-death-lawsuit-i...

Tuesday, October 31st 2017, 8:52 am PST

By Amber Stegall, Digital Content ManagerCONNECT

FedEx plane at the Lubbock airport (Source: KCBD)
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -
The law firm of Glasheen, Valles & Inderman has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against FedEx Freight, Inc. in Lubbock County District Court Tuesday on behalf of Tandi Wagner and Kristi Ramirez for the wrongful death of their father, 60-year-old Michael Merton. Merton was killed on October 17 when he was crushed inside of the airplane on which he was working.

Officials have not released any identifying information or specifics on what happened and FedEx officials said they were cooperating with the investigative authorities.

Officials with the FAA released a statement saying, "We will investigate the accident to determine whether the maintenance was being performed in accordance with approved safety procedures and if the mechanic had received adequate training."

FedEx officials also issued a statement saying, "We are deeply saddened by this tragic accident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and colleagues affected by the loss of our team member. We are cooperating fully with investigating authorities."

The lawsuit is the first information provided to the media about what possibly happened that day.

The lawsuit names FedEx Freight, Inc., Merton’s employer, as the sole defendant, and it alleges that FedEx failed to train its employees regarding safety procedures, failed to follow safety procedures, and failed to provide a safe place to work. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are seeking exemplary damages for the loss of their father.

Kevin Glasheen, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said one of the reasons for filing the lawsuit was the complete lack of information and communication from both FedEx and the Federal Aviation Administration.

"My Clients want to know why their Dad died, and they want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else. These kinds of work injuries are usually a failure of the lockout/tagout procedure that’s supposed to make sure machinery isn’t activated during maintenance. That will be our first line of inquiry," said Glasheen.

Tags: oshaScott MugnoFedEx crimessafety cover-up
Categories: Labor News

12/10 SF Forum- FedEx Murder For Profit: Health And Safety, OSHA And Trump's Nominee FedEx VP Scott Mugno

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 16:45

12/10 SF Forum- FedEx Murder For Profit: Health And Safety, OSHA And Trump's Nominee FedEx VP Scott Mugno
Our Lives and Health and Safety

Speakers:
Gary Brent FedEx Health and Safety officer and Driver Trainer
Matthew Zugsberger, UBC 34 Diver and OSHA Whistleblower at Park Service
Other Speakers

December 10, 2017 2:00 PM
Bernal Heights Library
500 Cortland Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94110

President Trump has nominated FedEx Scott Mugno who is VP for Safety, Sustainability and Vehicle Maintenance at FedEx Ground. There have been over hundreds of deaths of FedEx workers in the last 15 years. Scott Mugno has also personally retaliated against health and safety whistleblowers like Guy Cobb in Memphis, TN. who exposed serious potential dangers of an earthquake at FedEx buildings. He was targeted, bullied and fired by FedEx. Another whistleblower was Brian Gruzulski who was a FedEx mechanic at LAX who saw serious safety problems from rust and was bullied, retaliated against and fired. Gary Brent was a health and safety officer and driver trainer at FedEx ground and when he tried to enforce OSHA and EPA rules he was harassed and terminated.

At the same time Scott Mugno was also a lobbyist for the American Trucking Association ATA and he was pushing for complete deregulation of trucking with an large increase in size of trucks threatening the public and the roads. What these whistleblowers also discovered was that FedEx had captured OSHA and other federal agencies like the EPA. Officials in these agencies colluded with the company to limit their liability and prevent them being held acceptable to the workers and the public.

This forum will look at what is happening at FedEx OSHA and also the case of OSHA whistleblower and UBC 34 diver Matthew Zugsberger who reported on serious health problems at a job at Drakes Estero Rack Removal. He reported health and safety hazards and was retaliated by the Park Service, his employer and OSHA officials who engaged in a cover-up of the illegal activity.

The issue of protecting health and safety whistleblowers is critical to all and fighting for their protection is critical to the public.

Sponsored by
WorkWeek Radio
United Public Workers For Action http://www.upwa.info
Workers Solidarity Action Network
https://www.facebook.com/workerssolidarityactionnetwork/
Injured Workers National Network
https://www.facebook.com/Injured-Workers-National-Network-IWNN-108362552...

Just Say No to Scott Mugno as OSHA Director-Fired Federal OSHA Whistleblower Darrell Whitman Speaks Out

FedEx Truck Accident History
https://www.frg-law.com/carriers/fedex/
In the 24-month period prior to December 3, 2017, FedEx Express drivers were reported to have been involved in 1762 crashes, 575 involving injuries, including 41 deaths. From 2012, the number of crashes has increased by 254.5%; the number of injuries has increased by 192%; and the number of fatalities has increased by 273%.

FedEx Worker Gary Brent Fired For Taking Pictures of Trailers and Trailers
http://askthetrucker.com/osha-awards-damages-for-fired-truck-driver/
I am a former FedEx Express Driver Instructor that was fired for taking pictures of unsafe FedEx Ground Trailers and FedEx Express Tractors and Trailers. I refused to use these unsafe FedEx Tractors and Trailers because, I would not violate any FMCSA Regulations. I
believed if FedEx terminated me for refusing to use this dangerous unsafe equipment, OSHA and The FMCSA would come to my aid, and was I wrong. I filed all the required Whistle Blower forms with the
local Fort Lauderdale, FL., OSHA Office. I also filed complaints with the TN and PA FMCSA against FedEx for violating FMCSA Regulations. I believed that OSHA was going to work closely with the FMCSA in TN and PA., because they administer a portions of the STAA Whistle Blower Act. What I leaned from dealing with Federal Agencies was, each agency will make up their own interpretations of
Federal Laws and try to dissuade you from pursuing your Whistle Blower Claim. The OSHA case worker I had in Fort Lauderdale didn’t
even want to review my pictures of the unsafe FedEx Vehicles and my complaints against FedEx with the PA and TN FMCSA. I had numerous documents and witnesses that OSHA wouldn’t even look at. OSHA in Fort Lauderdale ruled against me, so I appealed their decision through OSHA in Washington. I was told by the OSHA Appeals Office, that I would have to pay my witnesses air fare and lodging in my appeal. Is this a Government by and for the people?
A fellow Whistle Blower, Brian Gruzalski, Aircraft Mechanic at FedEx
has endured the same corruption by FedEx and the U.S. Government
that I have. OSHA, FMCSA and FAA are corrupt.

FedEx Casts Away Air Safety for Profits
https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/fedex-casts-away-air-safety-for...
Abrolat Law pc pursues safety violation allegations against FedEx

Dec 11, 2013, 11:11 ET from Abrolat Law pc

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently found FedEx Express (FedEx), the world's largest airline in terms of freight tons flown and the world's fourth largest airline in terms of fleet size, in violation of federal safety requirements. FedEx's fleet is primarily made-up of retired jetliners purchased at discount prices. The average FedEx jetliner is 20 to 40 years old. These older aircraft require significant ongoing work to ensure flightworthiness, and FedEx loses massive amounts in profit each day that one of its jetliners is on the ground for repair and maintenance.

Several Technicians from FedEx's Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) location have filed complaints with the FAA alleging that FedEx does not repair and maintain its aircraft consistent with FAA safety requirements.

These Technicians allege that FedEx knowingly falsified repair and maintenance records documenting work that was never actually performed and allowed jetliners to return to flight without necessary safety repairs and maintenance. The Technicians also contend that FedEx's safety violations resulted in FedEx aircraft flying across the United States with corrosion so extensive, that there were visible external cracks in the fuselage.

The FAA's investigation of the Technicians' complaints confirmed that FedEx has committed safety violations. Current FedEx employees contend that despite these FAA findings, FedEx has not changed its repair and maintenance practices and continues to place FedEx employees and the public at risk.

In a whistle-blower, wrongful termination lawsuit against FedEx filed this summer in Los Angeles Superior Court (Case No. BC512638), a former Technician at FedEx's LAX location, Brian Gruzalski, alleges that he repeatedly complained to FedEx about its practice of violating safety regulations. Gruzalski commented, "FedEx has been trying to cut corners to increase profits by simply not doing the required safety maintenance on very old planes." Gruzalski also claims that while employed, he observed FedEx impose unreasonable time limits on safety maintenance work: "It should be understood that maintenance on old, worn-out jetliners is going to take longer to properly repair than new planes."

According to the lawsuit, which is being pursued by Gruzalski and Abrolat Law to stop these practices, FedEx has retaliated against experienced, senior Technicians who complain about the safety violations, and ultimately fired Gruzalski due to his complaints.

Anyone with information relevant to our investigation is encouraged to call: 866-884-4228

Contact: Nancy Abrolat, Esq.

310-615-0008

JUST SAY NO TO THE MUGNO NOMINATION:
An Open Letter to Congress and the American People

By Darrell Whitmani

On December 5, the U.S. Senate will open hearings into President Trump’s nomination of Scott Mugno to be the Director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). It’s traditional to give a President the discretion to appoint whomever she/he wants to a federal office. However, there’s a reason Congress has a say in these appointments, which is to ensur the public interest is not put at jeopardy. The nomination of Scott Mungo is one of those where
Congress must just say no to protect the public interest.

In 1969, the Senate rejected the nomination of Clement Haynsworth to the U.S. Supreme Court, a federal court judge with a history of rulings hostile to labor and civil rights. Then in 1970, the Senate rejected the nomination of G. Harrold Carswell, a federal judge who had earlier supported
racial segregation. These two judges had deeply held beliefs which affected their conduct as federal judges, and they were rejected in spite of the tradition of deferring to Presidential
nominations, because they were out of step with national interests in race and social justice.

An appointment to direct OSHA is of the same caliber as an appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. While Supreme Court decisions carry great weight in setting national standards for rights and the protection, OSHA manages a key program in bringing those rights and protections to life
through its Whsitleblower Protection Program. This Program acts as the gate-keeper for 22 federal statutes which protect private sector employees who responsibly report threats to safety, health and financial security. When OSHA fails to ensure the Program works, bad things happen.
Some of these bad things include: OSHA’s failure for more than twenty years to timely inspect and enforce the regulations regarding fertilizer storage, which in 2013 led to a massive explosion in West, Texas which killed 15 people, twelve of whom were first-responder firemen; OSHA’s
failure in 2006 to report serious fraud in residential mortgage lending by Country-Wide Financial, which made a substantial contribution to the 2008-2009 financial meltdown; OSHA’s
repeated failures, beginning at least in 2010, to report consumer financial fraud by Wells Fargo, that led to victimizing at least 3.5 million bank customers and calls into question the regulation of the banking industry; and since the 1980s, OSHA’s practice of substantially discounting fines
issued to corporate scofflaws, which has contributed to a general belief among renegade companies that violations of safety, health, and financial security regulations carry no
consequences.

Scott Mungo comes to this OSHA appointment as a senior safety and health officer at Federal Express, and as a major figure advocating on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for lower regulatory protection. Workplace-based illnesses, injuries, and deaths have been rising, as has
fraud in the financial industry. Yet, OSHA’ response has been to water-down its reporting of work-place casualties, and step back from watch-dogging the financial industry. This argues
OSHA needs new, strong leadership rooted in the public interest, rather than a director who will accelerate its capture by scofflaw corporations. FedEx has been one of those scofflaw companies that have actively sought to undermine workplace, and thereby public, regulatory protection by
attacking employees who report violations of safety, health, and financial security regulations. Coming from this culture is hardly an endorsement of Mugno’s commitment to the public
interest.

The issue isn’t Scott Mungo per se, or the President’s right to determine nominations: it’s the national interests. As the nation’s primary gate-keeper for regulating the private sector through its WPP, OSHA plays a key role in regulatory governance. It’s inconceivable OSHA can carry out the mission of the WPP under the supervision of someone who’s a devoted opponent of regulation, and whose own history is tainted by a disregard for safety and health regulation. A
thorough vetting of the Mugno nomination is required, and that vetting should include testimony from present and former FedEx employees who know the real stories that don’t appear in FedEx’s public relations gambits. There is a long line of these employees waiting to testify, if the Senate chooses to know the facts and not just FedEx public relations. Once this larger picture is visible, Congress must then just say no to Mugno and yes to public safety to protect its own
integrity as well as that of OSHA and the federal regulatory system.

i Dr. Darrell Whitman is an attorney, scholar, union official, and former Regional Investigator working in OSHA’s
Whistleblower Protection Program. He was fired in May 2015 after publicly challenging corruption in the Program,
which he reported to the federal Office of Special Counsel. The OSC is currently considering an investigation of
OSHA and other federal agencies and officials to determine the extent of the corruption of the national regulatory
system.

(c)

Texas Family files wrongful death lawsuit in FedEx mechanic death at Lubbock airport

http://www.kcbd.com/story/36727763/family-files-wrongful-death-lawsuit-i...

Tuesday, October 31st 2017, 8:52 am PST

By Amber Stegall, Digital Content ManagerCONNECT

FedEx plane at the Lubbock airport (Source: KCBD)
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -
The law firm of Glasheen, Valles & Inderman has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against FedEx Freight, Inc. in Lubbock County District Court Tuesday on behalf of Tandi Wagner and Kristi Ramirez for the wrongful death of their father, 60-year-old Michael Merton. Merton was killed on October 17 when he was crushed inside of the airplane on which he was working.

Officials have not released any identifying information or specifics on what happened and FedEx officials said they were cooperating with the investigative authorities.

Officials with the FAA released a statement saying, "We will investigate the accident to determine whether the maintenance was being performed in accordance with approved safety procedures and if the mechanic had received adequate training."

FedEx officials also issued a statement saying, "We are deeply saddened by this tragic accident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and colleagues affected by the loss of our team member. We are cooperating fully with investigating authorities."

The lawsuit is the first information provided to the media about what possibly happened that day.

The lawsuit names FedEx Freight, Inc., Merton’s employer, as the sole defendant, and it alleges that FedEx failed to train its employees regarding safety procedures, failed to follow safety procedures, and failed to provide a safe place to work. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are seeking exemplary damages for the loss of their father.

Kevin Glasheen, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said one of the reasons for filing the lawsuit was the complete lack of information and communication from both FedEx and the Federal Aviation Administration.

"My Clients want to know why their Dad died, and they want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else. These kinds of work injuries are usually a failure of the lockout/tagout procedure that’s supposed to make sure machinery isn’t activated during maintenance. That will be our first line of inquiry," said Glasheen.

Tags: oshaScott MugnoFedEx crimessafety cover-up
Categories: Labor News

Growing length of U.S. freight trains in federal crosshairs after crashes: GAO

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 10:06

Growing length of U.S. freight trains in federal crosshairs after crashes: GAO

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-train-safety/growing-length-of-u-...

Eric. M. Johnson
The GAO will launch its study on safety and other impacts of longer trains in February, GAO spokesman Chuck Young told Reuters on Tuesday. The action was prompted by a Nov. 7 letter, seen by Reuters, from U.S. Representatives Peter DeFazio and Michael Capuano, both Democratic members of the House Transportation Committee.

DeFazio said his office has received complaints over safety and traffic jams at rail crossings.

CSX, the No.3 U.S. railroad by revenue, told investors in October its freight trains have increased more than 400 feet to 6,833 feet (2.08 km) on average since March, when newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Hunter Harrison launched his plan to boost profits and streamline operations.

CSX’s eastern U.S. rival Norfolk Southern Corp’s (NSC.N) trains average longer than 5,500 feet, a year-to-date record, the company said in the third quarter.

Western U.S. railroad Union Pacific said it posted record third quarter “train size performance” after hitting a record in 2016.

“Longer trains maximize crews, locomotives, fuel and other resources,” said Union Pacific spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza.

FRA data shows CSX's train accidents and incidents as a portion of miles traveled at the highest level in a decade after climbing in each of the last five years. (tinyurl.com/ybf6bqyy)

A long CSX train came off the tracks in Crestline, Ohio on June 11 as seen in this handout photo received December 6, 2017. SMART Transportation Union/Handout via REUTERS
SMART Union transportation division spokesman John Risch told top rail regulator the Surface Transportation Board (STB) at an October hearing on CSX service problems the average U.S. train is up to 1.5 miles long (2.41 km), but CSX has routinely operated trains two or even three miles long since Harrison took over.

The STB declined interview requests.

CSX spokesman Bryan Tucker said the industry trend toward longer trains is a “tried and proven way to increase efficiency.”

The latest concerns follow the fiery derailment of a 178-car CSX freight train in Hyndman, Pennsylvania in August, and the Nov. 27 derailment of a CSX train with 192 cars - nearly 2 miles long excluding locomotives - in Lakeland, Florida, spilling hazardous molten sulfur.

Slideshow (3 Images)
The FRA told Reuters it is also investigating the June derailment of a 13,147-foot CSX train in Crestline, Ohio.

National Transportation Safety Board rail division head David Bucher told Reuters train length and build were “an important part of the investigation” into the Hyndman crash, adding he was hesitant to draw conclusions about an ongoing investigation.

“Train lengths are increasing across the country,” Bucher said. “It is becoming more and more common, not just with CSX.”

The NTSB, FRA, and STB do not collect data on train length, except for specific accidents or mediations.

The American Association of Railroads (AAR) declined to comment.

CSX employees and union officials said many conductors lack experience to run long trains.

CSX’s Tucker said the railroad’s crews are fully qualified to operate longer trains and CSX uses computer modeling before running longer trains on a new route.

One CSX manager told Reuters FRA inspectors have showed up almost daily in recent weeks looking for long trains and conducting inspections at terminals in Cincinnati, Ohio, Waycross, Georgia, and elsewhere.

“They (FRA inspectors) do more blitzes than they used to, where several inspectors will show up in a place and stay for a couple days,” the manager added.

Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Lisa Shumaker
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tags: Train crashesderegulationGAOCSXtrain size increase
Categories: Labor News

Growing length of U.S. freight trains in federal crosshairs after crashes: GAO

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 10:06

Growing length of U.S. freight trains in federal crosshairs after crashes: GAO

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-train-safety/growing-length-of-u-...

Eric. M. Johnson
The GAO will launch its study on safety and other impacts of longer trains in February, GAO spokesman Chuck Young told Reuters on Tuesday. The action was prompted by a Nov. 7 letter, seen by Reuters, from U.S. Representatives Peter DeFazio and Michael Capuano, both Democratic members of the House Transportation Committee.

DeFazio said his office has received complaints over safety and traffic jams at rail crossings.

CSX, the No.3 U.S. railroad by revenue, told investors in October its freight trains have increased more than 400 feet to 6,833 feet (2.08 km) on average since March, when newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Hunter Harrison launched his plan to boost profits and streamline operations.

CSX’s eastern U.S. rival Norfolk Southern Corp’s (NSC.N) trains average longer than 5,500 feet, a year-to-date record, the company said in the third quarter.

Western U.S. railroad Union Pacific said it posted record third quarter “train size performance” after hitting a record in 2016.

“Longer trains maximize crews, locomotives, fuel and other resources,” said Union Pacific spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza.

FRA data shows CSX's train accidents and incidents as a portion of miles traveled at the highest level in a decade after climbing in each of the last five years. (tinyurl.com/ybf6bqyy)

A long CSX train came off the tracks in Crestline, Ohio on June 11 as seen in this handout photo received December 6, 2017. SMART Transportation Union/Handout via REUTERS
SMART Union transportation division spokesman John Risch told top rail regulator the Surface Transportation Board (STB) at an October hearing on CSX service problems the average U.S. train is up to 1.5 miles long (2.41 km), but CSX has routinely operated trains two or even three miles long since Harrison took over.

The STB declined interview requests.

CSX spokesman Bryan Tucker said the industry trend toward longer trains is a “tried and proven way to increase efficiency.”

The latest concerns follow the fiery derailment of a 178-car CSX freight train in Hyndman, Pennsylvania in August, and the Nov. 27 derailment of a CSX train with 192 cars - nearly 2 miles long excluding locomotives - in Lakeland, Florida, spilling hazardous molten sulfur.

Slideshow (3 Images)
The FRA told Reuters it is also investigating the June derailment of a 13,147-foot CSX train in Crestline, Ohio.

National Transportation Safety Board rail division head David Bucher told Reuters train length and build were “an important part of the investigation” into the Hyndman crash, adding he was hesitant to draw conclusions about an ongoing investigation.

“Train lengths are increasing across the country,” Bucher said. “It is becoming more and more common, not just with CSX.”

The NTSB, FRA, and STB do not collect data on train length, except for specific accidents or mediations.

The American Association of Railroads (AAR) declined to comment.

CSX employees and union officials said many conductors lack experience to run long trains.

CSX’s Tucker said the railroad’s crews are fully qualified to operate longer trains and CSX uses computer modeling before running longer trains on a new route.

One CSX manager told Reuters FRA inspectors have showed up almost daily in recent weeks looking for long trains and conducting inspections at terminals in Cincinnati, Ohio, Waycross, Georgia, and elsewhere.

“They (FRA inspectors) do more blitzes than they used to, where several inspectors will show up in a place and stay for a couple days,” the manager added.

Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Lisa Shumaker
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tags: Train crashesderegulationGAOCSXtrain size increase
Categories: Labor News

Safety concerns drive ATU Local 1005 transit operators dispute: Twin Cities bus drivers,Cities bus drivers, light-rail operators are being assaulted more often; threaten strike

Sun, 12/03/2017 - 23:07

Safety concerns drive ATU Local 1005 transit operators dispute: Twin Cities bus drivers,Cities bus drivers, light-rail operators are being assaulted more often; threaten strike
By Ryan Faircloth / St. Paul Pioneer Press on Dec 2, 2017 at 8:23 p.m.

Metro Transit bus operator David Stiggers at Union Depot Station in St. Paul on Thursday, Nov. 30. Stiggers has driven Metro Transit buses for 11 years. In that time he has been frequently verbally harassed, pelted with objects and received death threats. (Jean Pieri / St. Paul Pioneer Press)1 / 2
ST. PAUL — Jane Hanson was clearing her light-rail train at Union Depot one morning when a heroin-abusing passenger struck her from behind.

Jeanne O'Neill has been assaulted, groped and spat on in her 17 years as a Metro Transit bus driver.

David Stiggers has fielded verbal abuse and death threats while driving his bus routes.

In the Twin Cities, assaults on operators have grown more common over the past five years, with many incidents stemming from conflicts as minor as fare disputes. Operator-safety concerns recently became a major sticking point in a contract dispute between unionized workers and the Metropolitan Council, which runs the Metro Transit system. Drivers and transit personnel are threatening a Super Bowl strike unless protective measures are taken.

"(Assaults are) a constant stress that transit operators all over the country face," said Mark Lawson, president of Amalgamated ­Transit Union Local 1005, which authorized the strike.

Last year, 162 assaults were reported among the more than 1,500 Metro Transit operators. The incidents range from serious ­felony-level assaults to disorderly conduct and threats.

The 2016 assaults represent a nearly 17 percent jump from 2013. Early numbers on 2017 assaults suggest they'll keep pace with last year's total.

Metro Transit, which operates its own police force, said the safety of its employees and passengers remains a priority. From de-escalation and self-defense training to public awareness campaigns, the agency says it takes numerous steps to protect its train and bus operators.

Operators, though, say their safety concerns have gone largely unaddressed, creating a work environment where tense confrontations are commonplace.

"I want us all to be protected. I want us to be able to go home at night and not have a black eye or be spit on," Hanson said.

Transit officials maintain there's no uniform approach to protecting all drivers from harm.

A common occurrence

Hanson suffered five bulging discs in her neck from her light-rail assault in 2015. She required three to four months of rehabilitation before returning to work.

"Every time that I pulled in (to the garage after the attack), I requested police because there was no way I was going to go through that again," she said.

Hanson transitioned from light-rail to bus operation last year. She still encounters aggressive passengers on occasion.

Stiggers first started driving Metro Transit buses 11 years ago. He quickly learned which routes were desired and avoided by operators.

"You end up watching people get beat up, you end up watching people get cussed out," he said. "Sometimes you get some legitimately crazy individuals on your bus."

Stiggers' situational awareness has grown with his experience, helping him sense warning signs and defuse conflicts before they escalate.

O'Neill said she's experienced multiple instances of sexual harassment as a driver. A passenger once stood behind her and muttered sexual suggestions as she drove her route.

Sometimes, she said, situations became physical.

"I've had my butt grabbed by what turned out to be an unregistered sex offender," O'Neill said. The incident occurred as she attempted to secure a wheelchair on the bus.

" 'Don't touch the driver' is a message I would like to tell the public," she said.

Current deterrents

Metro Transit announced Friday that 20 buses would be retrofitted with plexiglass driver enclosures in the coming weeks as part of a test.

"There's a renewed desire to do a pilot exploration to see, is this going to be something that solves or eliminates (these concerns)?" said Brian Funk, Metro Transit's deputy chief operating officer for bus.

Drivers will have the option to open or close the clear plexiglass shields, he said.

The shields will likely be tested over the course of six months so transit officials can seek feedback from operators, Funk said. Metro Transit will extend the demonstration if more input is needed.

"We want to go through the process and ensure that it is something our employees do want," Funk said.

Metro Transit spokesman Howie Padilla said officials use various methods to deter operator assaults, like publicizing penalties imposed on offenders. A Minnesota law that took effect in 2013 heightened penalties for certain degrees of assault, subjecting assailants to gross misdemeanor charges.

"I'm out there all the time talking about 'we will hold people accountable,' " Padilla said.

Buses and trains are retrofitted with cameras, Padilla said, and transit police make an effort to sit in on routes when available.

Metro Transit also offers annual pepper-spray classes for operators who want to defend themselves, Funk said.

Striking for safety

Unionized transit workers rejected the Met Council's most recent contract offer last month, citing safety as one of their primary concerns. Plexiglass enclosures on buses were among their demands.

O'Neill said a protective shield would have prevented incidents where she was struck or spat on.

Union President Mark ­Lawson said workers want to collaborate with Metro Transit to find the best-suited safety enclosure for the bus fleet.

"I just feel like the goal ought to be a fully integrated design on every single bus," he said.

If the dispute isn't resolved by January, transit operators and support personnel say they will go on strike during Super Bowl LII, which will be held Feb. 4 in Minneapolis.

Lawson and Local 1005 union workers met with the Met Council for another round of negotiations on Nov. 22. The discussions were largely unproductive, Lawson said.

"As of this point, there are no more talks scheduled," he said.

Metro Transit workers last went on strike in 2004. It lasted roughly six weeks.

Operator assaults felt nationwide

Assaults on operators have driven transit agencies across the country to implement safety measures.

New York City's Metropolitan Transit Authority earlier this year retrofitted the last of the city's 4,700-bus fleet with protective partitions. NYC transit union officials believe the partitions are responsible for a drop in reported operator assaults.

Buses in Washington, D.C., have also been retrofitted with protective shields, but not all assaults have been avoided.

A woman was arrested in August for throwing a cup of her own urine around a protective shield at a D.C. bus driver. And last month, a man wielding a knife reached around a D.C. bus driver's partition and threatened to kill him.

Finding the right fix

Metro Transit officials will evaluate the effectiveness of the plexiglass shields to ensure no new safety hazards are introduced, Funk said.

"We don't want to introduce something that could lead to other issues such as additional glare, or a situation where if there's a crash ... the barrier is no longer operable and it puts the operator in a compromising position," he said.

Funk also said not all operators embrace the idea of being enclosed.

Polly Hanson, director of security, risk and emergency management for the American Public Transportation Association, said transit agencies are most successful when taking a multifaceted approach to operator safety.

"It's a layered approach that most properties take: public awareness campaigns, enhanced penalties, looking at the configuration of the bus, and then getting the message out about prosecutions when they occur to have that as a deterrent effect as well," she said.

Still, Jane Hanson said ­having a protective enclosure on her Metro Transit bus would make her job much less nerve-racking.

"That would make me ­happy," she said. "I love the public, I love the contact, I just don't like the bad ­people."

Tags: ATU 1005St. Paul Transit StrikeMetro Transit
Categories: Labor News

Safety concerns drive ATU Local 1005 transit operators dispute: Twin Cities bus drivers,Cities bus drivers, light-rail operators are being assaulted more often; threaten strike

Sun, 12/03/2017 - 23:06

Safety concerns drive ATU Local 1005 transit operators dispute: Twin Cities bus drivers,Cities bus drivers, light-rail operators are being assaulted more often; threaten strike
By Ryan Faircloth / St. Paul Pioneer Press on Dec 2, 2017 at 8:23 p.m.

Metro Transit bus operator David Stiggers at Union Depot Station in St. Paul on Thursday, Nov. 30. Stiggers has driven Metro Transit buses for 11 years. In that time he has been frequently verbally harassed, pelted with objects and received death threats. (Jean Pieri / St. Paul Pioneer Press)1 / 2
ST. PAUL — Jane Hanson was clearing her light-rail train at Union Depot one morning when a heroin-abusing passenger struck her from behind.

Jeanne O'Neill has been assaulted, groped and spat on in her 17 years as a Metro Transit bus driver.

David Stiggers has fielded verbal abuse and death threats while driving his bus routes.

In the Twin Cities, assaults on operators have grown more common over the past five years, with many incidents stemming from conflicts as minor as fare disputes. Operator-safety concerns recently became a major sticking point in a contract dispute between unionized workers and the Metropolitan Council, which runs the Metro Transit system. Drivers and transit personnel are threatening a Super Bowl strike unless protective measures are taken.

"(Assaults are) a constant stress that transit operators all over the country face," said Mark Lawson, president of Amalgamated ­Transit Union Local 1005, which authorized the strike.

Last year, 162 assaults were reported among the more than 1,500 Metro Transit operators. The incidents range from serious ­felony-level assaults to disorderly conduct and threats.

The 2016 assaults represent a nearly 17 percent jump from 2013. Early numbers on 2017 assaults suggest they'll keep pace with last year's total.

Metro Transit, which operates its own police force, said the safety of its employees and passengers remains a priority. From de-escalation and self-defense training to public awareness campaigns, the agency says it takes numerous steps to protect its train and bus operators.

Operators, though, say their safety concerns have gone largely unaddressed, creating a work environment where tense confrontations are commonplace.

"I want us all to be protected. I want us to be able to go home at night and not have a black eye or be spit on," Hanson said.

Transit officials maintain there's no uniform approach to protecting all drivers from harm.

A common occurrence

Hanson suffered five bulging discs in her neck from her light-rail assault in 2015. She required three to four months of rehabilitation before returning to work.

"Every time that I pulled in (to the garage after the attack), I requested police because there was no way I was going to go through that again," she said.

Hanson transitioned from light-rail to bus operation last year. She still encounters aggressive passengers on occasion.

Stiggers first started driving Metro Transit buses 11 years ago. He quickly learned which routes were desired and avoided by operators.

"You end up watching people get beat up, you end up watching people get cussed out," he said. "Sometimes you get some legitimately crazy individuals on your bus."

Stiggers' situational awareness has grown with his experience, helping him sense warning signs and defuse conflicts before they escalate.

O'Neill said she's experienced multiple instances of sexual harassment as a driver. A passenger once stood behind her and muttered sexual suggestions as she drove her route.

Sometimes, she said, situations became physical.

"I've had my butt grabbed by what turned out to be an unregistered sex offender," O'Neill said. The incident occurred as she attempted to secure a wheelchair on the bus.

" 'Don't touch the driver' is a message I would like to tell the public," she said.

Current deterrents

Metro Transit announced Friday that 20 buses would be retrofitted with plexiglass driver enclosures in the coming weeks as part of a test.

"There's a renewed desire to do a pilot exploration to see, is this going to be something that solves or eliminates (these concerns)?" said Brian Funk, Metro Transit's deputy chief operating officer for bus.

Drivers will have the option to open or close the clear plexiglass shields, he said.

The shields will likely be tested over the course of six months so transit officials can seek feedback from operators, Funk said. Metro Transit will extend the demonstration if more input is needed.

"We want to go through the process and ensure that it is something our employees do want," Funk said.

Metro Transit spokesman Howie Padilla said officials use various methods to deter operator assaults, like publicizing penalties imposed on offenders. A Minnesota law that took effect in 2013 heightened penalties for certain degrees of assault, subjecting assailants to gross misdemeanor charges.

"I'm out there all the time talking about 'we will hold people accountable,' " Padilla said.

Buses and trains are retrofitted with cameras, Padilla said, and transit police make an effort to sit in on routes when available.

Metro Transit also offers annual pepper-spray classes for operators who want to defend themselves, Funk said.

Striking for safety

Unionized transit workers rejected the Met Council's most recent contract offer last month, citing safety as one of their primary concerns. Plexiglass enclosures on buses were among their demands.

O'Neill said a protective shield would have prevented incidents where she was struck or spat on.

Union President Mark ­Lawson said workers want to collaborate with Metro Transit to find the best-suited safety enclosure for the bus fleet.

"I just feel like the goal ought to be a fully integrated design on every single bus," he said.

If the dispute isn't resolved by January, transit operators and support personnel say they will go on strike during Super Bowl LII, which will be held Feb. 4 in Minneapolis.

Lawson and Local 1005 union workers met with the Met Council for another round of negotiations on Nov. 22. The discussions were largely unproductive, Lawson said.

"As of this point, there are no more talks scheduled," he said.

Metro Transit workers last went on strike in 2004. It lasted roughly six weeks.

Operator assaults felt nationwide

Assaults on operators have driven transit agencies across the country to implement safety measures.

New York City's Metropolitan Transit Authority earlier this year retrofitted the last of the city's 4,700-bus fleet with protective partitions. NYC transit union officials believe the partitions are responsible for a drop in reported operator assaults.

Buses in Washington, D.C., have also been retrofitted with protective shields, but not all assaults have been avoided.

A woman was arrested in August for throwing a cup of her own urine around a protective shield at a D.C. bus driver. And last month, a man wielding a knife reached around a D.C. bus driver's partition and threatened to kill him.

Finding the right fix

Metro Transit officials will evaluate the effectiveness of the plexiglass shields to ensure no new safety hazards are introduced, Funk said.

"We don't want to introduce something that could lead to other issues such as additional glare, or a situation where if there's a crash ... the barrier is no longer operable and it puts the operator in a compromising position," he said.

Funk also said not all operators embrace the idea of being enclosed.

Polly Hanson, director of security, risk and emergency management for the American Public Transportation Association, said transit agencies are most successful when taking a multifaceted approach to operator safety.

"It's a layered approach that most properties take: public awareness campaigns, enhanced penalties, looking at the configuration of the bus, and then getting the message out about prosecutions when they occur to have that as a deterrent effect as well," she said.

Still, Jane Hanson said ­having a protective enclosure on her Metro Transit bus would make her job much less nerve-racking.

"That would make me ­happy," she said. "I love the public, I love the contact, I just don't like the bad ­people."

Tags: ATU 1005St. Paul Transit StrikeMetro Transit
Categories: Labor News

Seattle, Washington First Student IBT 174 school bus drivers launch one-day strike

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 17:49

Seattle, Washington First Student IBT 174 school bus drivers launch one-day strike
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/11/30/busd-n30.html
By Hector Cordon
30 November 2017
Several hundred school bus drivers walked out Wednesday morning in Seattle, Washington after transportation giant First Student unilaterally imposed its “last, best and final” contract offer. The Seattle public school system, with nearly 54,000 students, is the largest district in Washington state and roughly 12,000 of its students rely on the yellow buses for transport.
There was a high level of tension on the picket line Wednesday morning when a strikebreaker attempted to drive out of a bus yard. Completely ignoring picketers’ safety, the bus forced its way out of the lot and struck several picketers, although fortunately none of the workers were seriously injured.
First Student is a branch of United Kingdom-based conglomerate First Group, which was established through the privatization of nationalized and municipal bus operators during the Margaret Thatcher years. After buying up Laidlaw, the company became the largest provider of school buses in the United States. There are currently a series of strikes by bus drivers in Manchester and other UK cities at companies owned by First Group, which also owns Greyhound, the largest provider of bus service in North America.

Striking school bus drivers (Credit: Teamsters Local 174 Facebook page)
First Student and International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Local 174 have been in negotiations since June. In the 2016 contract agreement, the Teamsters agreed to defer negotiations on health and retirement issues until First Student secured its contract to provide services to the Seattle Public Schools, which occurred this year.
The 2016 contract obtained minimal job protection and wage increases for the drivers, with a new pay range of from $18 to $24.40. Given Seattle’s rapidly escalating housing costs, and rental costs reported in 2016 to be rising four times faster than the national average, the new wage scale was not even a drop in the bucket. In 2016, typical rents in the Seattle area surpassed $2,000, up 9.7 percent over the previous year, the highest rise in the nation. A year later, average rents are now $2,181 monthly.
The drivers are angry over First Student’s refusal to provide any but the most minimal health care benefits, and only to drivers who work more than 30 hours a week. They are not only fighting the corporate owners but also the Democratic Party-controlled Seattle School Board (SSB), which, in its contract with First Student, refused to broaden health coverage to drivers working between 20 and 30 hours per week. It wrote, “Unfortunately, the pass-through cost for the District to broaden First Student’s bus driver participation in healthcare coverage is cost prohibitive, especially when the District is facing a $74 million dollar shortfall.”
According to the union, “First Student provides the bare minimum required by the ACA [Affordable Care Act]. This means for over 400 drivers, only 26 of them both qualified and could afford to purchase healthcare available.” The only “affordable” plan offered by the company restricted coverage to seeing a doctor to diagnose an illness. Any subsequent follow up had to be paid out of pocket. Hospitalization, under those conditions, would be prohibitive if not impossible.
That only 26 out of 400 “insured” workers were able to obtain health coverage vindicates the warning by the World Socialist Web Siteas early as 2009, that the Obama administration’s health care ‘reform’ established a framework for the insurers, the corporations and the government to drastically reduce the health benefits available to low- and middle-income individuals and families. “The aim is to limit the amount that the government must pay out for health care and Social Security payments, as well as what corporations must pay in pensions and other retirement benefits,” the WSWS wrote.

Striking school bus drivers (Credit: Teamsters Local 174 Facebook page)
Local 174 released letters, obtained under a Freedom of Information request, from the school board and from Democratic Mayor Tim Burgess to First Student ostensibly placing the responsibility for any strike on the company. The effort of the Democrats to posture as friends of low-income workers reeks of hypocrisy and bad faith.
The school board’s letter goes out of its way to emphasize it will not provide First Student with additional funding towards paying for healthcare for its employees, as the district “has no legal obligation” to do so. Out of a budget of nearly $858 million, the SSB refused to include a mingy $1.7 million in order to expand even substandard health care to the school bus drivers. In other words, First Student will have to employ a workforce with a majority without any health care coverage. In its 2015 contract struggle with Seattle teachers, it forced through an inferior wage raise in a city where two-thirds of a starting teacher’s salary can be consumed simply by rent.
Mayor Burgess presides over a city with a poverty level of 13.5 percent, where gentrification has forced tens of thousands out of their homes and where the homeless crisis is accelerating with nearly 4,000 homeless, according to notoriously incomplete official counts. Meanwhile, side by side with rising misery, the Seattle area is home to two of the wealthiest men in the world, Amazon chief Jeff Bezos and Microsoft mogul Bill Gates, whose combined wealth totals nearly $190 billion. Along with Warren Buffet, these three men own as much wealth as the lower 50 percent of the US population.
The Democratic state administration has also showered aviation and defense giant Boeing with billions in corporate tax cuts while slashing state funding for school districts.
The Teamsters, which are politically allied with the Democrats, have no intention of waging a serious struggle. The union’s decision to limit the strike to one day is aimed at allowing workers to let off steam and block a genuine mobilization of workers and young people in Seattle to defend workers and the right to public education. Several comments on the union local’s Facebook site noted the impotency of a one-day strike. Joy White, a Seattle teacher, asked, “Why only one day? Will that be effective? We support you if you need to go longer.” Many parents’ comments sympathized with the bus drivers’ conditions and their desire to fight back.

Tags: Seattle School Bus DriversIBT 174Seattle Public Schools
Categories: Labor News

Seattle, Washington First Student IBT 174 school bus drivers launch one-day strike

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 17:49

Seattle, Washington First Student IBT 174 school bus drivers launch one-day strike
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/11/30/busd-n30.html
By Hector Cordon
30 November 2017
Several hundred school bus drivers walked out Wednesday morning in Seattle, Washington after transportation giant First Student unilaterally imposed its “last, best and final” contract offer. The Seattle public school system, with nearly 54,000 students, is the largest district in Washington state and roughly 12,000 of its students rely on the yellow buses for transport.
There was a high level of tension on the picket line Wednesday morning when a strikebreaker attempted to drive out of a bus yard. Completely ignoring picketers’ safety, the bus forced its way out of the lot and struck several picketers, although fortunately none of the workers were seriously injured.
First Student is a branch of United Kingdom-based conglomerate First Group, which was established through the privatization of nationalized and municipal bus operators during the Margaret Thatcher years. After buying up Laidlaw, the company became the largest provider of school buses in the United States. There are currently a series of strikes by bus drivers in Manchester and other UK cities at companies owned by First Group, which also owns Greyhound, the largest provider of bus service in North America.

Striking school bus drivers (Credit: Teamsters Local 174 Facebook page)
First Student and International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Local 174 have been in negotiations since June. In the 2016 contract agreement, the Teamsters agreed to defer negotiations on health and retirement issues until First Student secured its contract to provide services to the Seattle Public Schools, which occurred this year.
The 2016 contract obtained minimal job protection and wage increases for the drivers, with a new pay range of from $18 to $24.40. Given Seattle’s rapidly escalating housing costs, and rental costs reported in 2016 to be rising four times faster than the national average, the new wage scale was not even a drop in the bucket. In 2016, typical rents in the Seattle area surpassed $2,000, up 9.7 percent over the previous year, the highest rise in the nation. A year later, average rents are now $2,181 monthly.
The drivers are angry over First Student’s refusal to provide any but the most minimal health care benefits, and only to drivers who work more than 30 hours a week. They are not only fighting the corporate owners but also the Democratic Party-controlled Seattle School Board (SSB), which, in its contract with First Student, refused to broaden health coverage to drivers working between 20 and 30 hours per week. It wrote, “Unfortunately, the pass-through cost for the District to broaden First Student’s bus driver participation in healthcare coverage is cost prohibitive, especially when the District is facing a $74 million dollar shortfall.”
According to the union, “First Student provides the bare minimum required by the ACA [Affordable Care Act]. This means for over 400 drivers, only 26 of them both qualified and could afford to purchase healthcare available.” The only “affordable” plan offered by the company restricted coverage to seeing a doctor to diagnose an illness. Any subsequent follow up had to be paid out of pocket. Hospitalization, under those conditions, would be prohibitive if not impossible.
That only 26 out of 400 “insured” workers were able to obtain health coverage vindicates the warning by the World Socialist Web Siteas early as 2009, that the Obama administration’s health care ‘reform’ established a framework for the insurers, the corporations and the government to drastically reduce the health benefits available to low- and middle-income individuals and families. “The aim is to limit the amount that the government must pay out for health care and Social Security payments, as well as what corporations must pay in pensions and other retirement benefits,” the WSWS wrote.

Striking school bus drivers (Credit: Teamsters Local 174 Facebook page)
Local 174 released letters, obtained under a Freedom of Information request, from the school board and from Democratic Mayor Tim Burgess to First Student ostensibly placing the responsibility for any strike on the company. The effort of the Democrats to posture as friends of low-income workers reeks of hypocrisy and bad faith.
The school board’s letter goes out of its way to emphasize it will not provide First Student with additional funding towards paying for healthcare for its employees, as the district “has no legal obligation” to do so. Out of a budget of nearly $858 million, the SSB refused to include a mingy $1.7 million in order to expand even substandard health care to the school bus drivers. In other words, First Student will have to employ a workforce with a majority without any health care coverage. In its 2015 contract struggle with Seattle teachers, it forced through an inferior wage raise in a city where two-thirds of a starting teacher’s salary can be consumed simply by rent.
Mayor Burgess presides over a city with a poverty level of 13.5 percent, where gentrification has forced tens of thousands out of their homes and where the homeless crisis is accelerating with nearly 4,000 homeless, according to notoriously incomplete official counts. Meanwhile, side by side with rising misery, the Seattle area is home to two of the wealthiest men in the world, Amazon chief Jeff Bezos and Microsoft mogul Bill Gates, whose combined wealth totals nearly $190 billion. Along with Warren Buffet, these three men own as much wealth as the lower 50 percent of the US population.
The Democratic state administration has also showered aviation and defense giant Boeing with billions in corporate tax cuts while slashing state funding for school districts.
The Teamsters, which are politically allied with the Democrats, have no intention of waging a serious struggle. The union’s decision to limit the strike to one day is aimed at allowing workers to let off steam and block a genuine mobilization of workers and young people in Seattle to defend workers and the right to public education. Several comments on the union local’s Facebook site noted the impotency of a one-day strike. Joy White, a Seattle teacher, asked, “Why only one day? Will that be effective? We support you if you need to go longer.” Many parents’ comments sympathized with the bus drivers’ conditions and their desire to fight back.

Tags: Seattle School Bus DriversIBT 174Seattle Public Schools
Categories: Labor News

Hamilton, Canada transit in the Age of Austerity

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 14:42

Hamilton, Canada transit in the Age of Austerity

http://rankandfile.ca/2017/11/29/hamilton-transit-in-the-age-of-austerity/
Posted on November 29, 2017 in ATU, privatization
Editor’s introduction: This is the second half a two-part series on how austerity has damaged public transit. In this article Blake McCall, a Hamilton bus operator and ATU Local 107 member, and Caitlin Craven, a CUPW Local 548 and local Fight for $15 and Fairness organizer, examine how decades of underfunding has undermined Hamilton’s transit system, the HSR.

By Blake McCall and Caitlin Craven
Like all transit systems in the province, the HSR was the victim of city budget cuts in the 1990s stemming from provincial cuts under Premier Mike Harris and others. A startling statistic is that the total number of buses on the street was higher in the 1980s than it is now, despite the city having grown in size. This unsurprisingly has seen a drop in ridership from 29 million trips per year in the late 1980s to roughly 22 million trips per year today. In recent years the city has started to put more money back into the system, but it has never recovered from these cuts.

Pain and fatigue

One of the clearest examples of austerity in the HSR is the recent purchase of buses from Nova. Metrolinx, the ten-year-old Ontario crown agency designing to manage transportation in the Golden Horseshoe, has a deal with Nova Buses, a Montreal-based company owned by Volvo. Cities in Ontario have been using this arrangement to purchase bulk orders of Nova buses at lower prices. Hamilton had been buying New Flyer buses which had a better workstation set up for operators and were better liked by drivers – but didn’t come with the same bulk order deal.

Nova seating and workstation
Nova seating and workstation
Since day one, the new Nova Buses have had a myriad of problems not least of which is that the driver’s seat lacks basic ergonomics for a job where you spend 8-10 hours seated. As a result, drivers in Hamilton have been experiencing increased lower back pain, numbness in back and legs, and general fatigue.

Management clearly accepts there is a problem since buses going forward will come with better seats, but they are refusing to spend the money to fix the seats in the ones they have already purchased. Given that buses stay in service for 12-15 years and drivers can’t choose their bus, many will continue to face back problems. Down the line, more absence from work and WSIB claims are likely, but austerity favours short term gains over long term visions.

Like the $1 billion dollars in transit money offered to Hamilton by Premier Wynne, what looks like expenditure and investment is actually attached to continued austerity. In the case of Nova buses, it means broken bodies that will have a hard time accessing benefits. In the case of LRT, a profit-driven system that will squeeze out riders and drive down working conditions.

The symptom of absenteeism

The most recent uproar about driver absenteeism is also a symptom of longer standing austerity within the system. Despite what management says, the HSR is understaffed and has been for a long time.

ATU President Eric Tuck goes as far as saying in his open letter to Hamilton City Council: “If every single operator who is off sick, on vacation … or on emergency leave were to show up and work 40 to 50 hours per week, HSR still wouldn’t have enough staff to fill all the work on the schedule.”

At almost no point in the past two years has a driver not been able to find an overtime shift to take, with many working the maximum 60 hours per week on a regular basis. This reliance on overworked bodies in a job that requires physical and mental acuity is unsustainable. All it took was a small increase in people declining overtime and burning out for a ‘crisis in absenteeism’ to become public.

And public it has become.

B823487914Z.1_20170815154852_000_G7K1UF9H9.2_Super_PortraitWith people across the city not able to get to work and school because of buses simply not being on the road, or people using mobility devices waiting as full buses pass them by (more than usual in this already underfunded system), public attention has focused on HSR. For drivers, not having a bus in front of you on a busy road like King Street means taking on a double load of passengers, dealing with their frustrations and stress, getting behind and not thus not having any breaks. It also means going home to try and make a decision about whether you can face tomorrow knowing it will likely look the same.

In a cruel reflection of austerity’s violence, at least five assaults on drivers have happened since the City started blaming drivers for the missing buses. Unfortunately, too much attention is being focused on drivers as individuals not coming to work and not enough on the system and management choices that are causing the stress and fatigue.

Under the circumstances, then, it was nothing short of thrilling to see ATU 107 put the blame squarely on management and call for their resignations. The bigger picture, though, is that the crisis of absenteeism would not be happening with better funding. If there were adequate numbers on spare board, if drivers had longer run times on routes so that they could actually take proper breaks, and if the use of overtime to fill gaps were the exception not the rule. The threat of underfunded services is no different than the threat of privatization and the solution is the same: an end to austerity in public services.

The bigger picture and building movements

A central hurdle in the struggle to put the pieces together is the way austerity has happened in Canada. In contrast to the UK and many US states where funding cuts have been dramatic and sparked dramatic backlash, the Canadian way of power, as in so many things, is death by a thousand cuts. This makes it harder to see the big picture and less obvious to draw a link between each moment of defunding and the structure of neoliberalism.

In addition to the cuts, neoliberalism has wrecked havoc on our political movements and imaginations, lowering our expectations for ourselves and for what we could win together. It isn’t surprising, then, that campaigns remain focused on the moment of privatization as something tangible to latch onto. The problem is the way this limits our ability to truly create visions of what we want and what we deserve. There is a clear crisis in the labour movement in Canada when again and again the focus is limited to the moment of private ownership and the desire to protect jobs and membership.

As American union organizer Jane Macalvey has said, unions are not (and should not be) distinct from the broader community of working people. ATU’s membership are also people who take the bus, who are facing run-away housing costs, too few child care spaces, and student debt. Why, then, does the Union politics stop when the bus is brought back to the garage? Neoliberalism’s role in making access to life’s basics more unequal than ever matters across our whole community, and unions have the responsibility (and resources) to be part of the fight against these conditions.

With no political party actively putting forward an anti-austerity agenda, there is not use waiting for the next election to bring change. Instead, we can and must use our resources towards having workers and service users imagine a better way to live their lives and build the movements capable of taking on inequality. Anti-privatization campaigns present catalysts for action, but often lean too far in favour of the status quo. It is true that transit will not be better if it’s privatized, but transit cannot be good, fair, and equitable unless it is fully funded and funding will not emerge in the current climate of concessions to the needs of corporations and their shareholders.

If we want to stop the vision neoliberal capitalism has given us, of declining standards of living, declining ability to live on a warming planet, and increasing inequality, we need to offer alternative visions of what we desire and what we should expect. Workers’ movements against privatization need to be movements against austerity. There are examples that Keep Transit Public can build on to move forward, from the Fight for $15 in both Canada and the US that has shifted debates on low-wage work, to the proposals by CUPW (Canadian Union of Postal Workers) to reimagine the role of Canada Post by expanding services to things like Postal Banking. It boils down to remembering that privatization is the end goal of austerity in public sector funding. Attacking the source, as much as the symptom, is the best way to build the movements we need.

Tags: transitausterity
Categories: Labor News

Minneapolis ATU 1005 Transit union authorizes Super Bowl strike

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 12:40

Minneapolis ATU 1005 Transit union authorizes Super Bowl strike
http://www.southwestjournal.com/…/transit-union-authorizes…/
Members voted in November to reject their latest contract offer
DYLAN THOMAS / DTHOMAS@SOUTHWESTJOURNAL.COM NOVEMBER 29, 2017

Negotiating with the Metropolitan Council over their latest contract, members of the union representing Metro Transit workers have authorized a strike that would coincide with an influx of visitors for the Super Bowl. Photo by Dylan Thomas
The threat of a Super Bowl strike by Metro Transit workers looms over ongoing contract negotiations between the Metropolitan Council and the union representing roughly 2,500 transit service employees.
Ninety-three percent of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005 members voted Nov. 13 to reject the latest offer from Met Council and authorize a strike. That strike would take place during the 10-day Super Bowl celebration scheduled to start in late January, just as thousands of visitors begin to stream into Minneapolis for the Feb. 4 game.
The union’s last contract expired at the end of July, and ATU and Met Council have been meeting with a state mediator to try to resolve the contract dispute. Local 1005 President Mark Lawson said the proposed Jan. 26 start date for the strike would “put the pressure on them to get serious about this.”
“We already went by a big event with the (Minnesota) State Fair without a contract,” Lawson said. “We want to get this settled.”
The union represents bus and light rail vehicle drivers, technicians and office staff employed by Metro Transit.
Speaking about Super Bowl plans a few hours before the contract vote results were made public, Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb described talk of a strike as “premature” and emphasized that a functioning transit system was key to the Twin Cities successfully hosting a Super Bowl.
Plans for game day include using Metro Transit light rail vehicles to shuttle ticket holders inside the security perimeter surrounding U.S. Bank Stadium.
“We are very optimistic that we’re going to reach a negotiated settlement as we have with ATU for the last five contract periods,” Lamb said.
Key differences
Local 1005 and Met Council are negotiating the terms of a three-year contract that will be retroactive to Aug. 1. Lawson said there were a few key differences in the positions held by the union and Met Council, including a cap on weekly hours for part-time drivers, the required tool list for mechanics and the union’s proposals to enhance driver safety.
Lawson said Met Council was proposing to allow part-time drivers to work more than 30 hours per week, the current limit, if they’re running late due to weather, traffic, construction or other delays. He said that would push many part-time drivers closer to fulltime hours while retaining just their part-time benefits, adding that many of those drivers chose the job because they don’t want to work more than 30 hours a week.
Regarding the toolbox required of mechanics, Lawson said the union and Met Council had been working together to update a tool list that hadn’t been modified in about 30 years. Both sides agree those updates are needed to keep pace with changing technology, he said, but the union wants a significant increase in the $400-per-year tool allowance for mechanics. Without that change, Lawson said, mechanics would face a jump in out-of-pocket expenses.
The union is also negotiating for enhanced driver safety measures, and Lawson said members have been pushing for the installation of security doors on buses. Physical barriers made of Plexiglas or a similar transparent material are used in a few cities but are not yet common in North America, he said.
In addition to being spit on, egged, smacked and groped during 17 years as a bus driver, Metro Transit employee Jeanne O’Niell said she has been threatened with physical harm “more times than I can count.” O’Niell said behavior problems seemed to have gotten worse and that it was time for Metro Transit to take a “proactive approach” to protecting drivers.
“The planes have the cockpit. The trains have their locked doors. Why not the bus drivers? We need to be safe,” she said.
Foot-dragging
Lawson said the two sides are not quite as far apart on a few other key issues, including pay and benefits. Met Council’s most recent proposal included 2-percent annual raises for workers, he said. The union is also pushing Met Council to add a second on-site clinic — similar to one in the agency’s St. Paul headquarters — for workers based in Minneapolis.
Addressing Met Council members before their Oct. 25 meeting, Ryan Timlin, who ran unopposed this fall to succeed Lawson as Local 1005 president, said the agency was to blame for the slow pace of progress on contract talks.
“There’s been a lot of feet dragging by Metropolitan Council so we’re here tonight to make it clear we’re tired of this,” Timlin said.
Asked to comment in November, a Met Council spokesperson shared this statement:
“We value the work of ATU members and their contribution to our region. We are currently negotiating in good faith through a mediator and are confident we’ll reach an agreement satisfactory to both parties.”

— Nate Gotlieb contributed to this report.

Tags: ATU 1005strike actionMet Council
Categories: Labor News

Racist Union Busting Terry MacRae Given Ferry Franchise By NYC Demo Mayor DeBlasio

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 17:46

Racist Union Busting Terry MacRae Given Ferry Franchise By NYC Demo Mayor DeBlasio
New York City’s Ferry Fleet Is Off to a Fast Start
"Terry MacRae, the chief executive of Hornblower, a San Francisco-based company that operates the ferries, said the service might benefit from express boats that skip stops “like an express train when you’ve already got the milk run.” At peak travel times, boats might run directly from one high-volume stop on a route, say Long Island City, to an endpoint like Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/29/nyregion/new-york-ferry.html?hpw&rref...
By PATRICK McGEEHANNOV. 29, 2017

After launching in May, New York City’s ferry system has proved enormously popular, with ridership far exceeding expectations. CreditChristian Hansen for The New York Times
In a year of transit miseries, it has become an unexpected success story in New York City’s commuting landscape — the city’s nascent ferry fleet, whose ridership has far exceeded expectations, is rapidly becoming an alternative to the beleaguered subway system.

Two of the four new ferry lines are already carrying more passengers than had been projected for 2019. The ferry service has proved so popular that the city has had to order bigger boats and there is already talk of creating express routes to zip workers to and from their jobs more quickly.

Six months after Mayor Bill de Blasio started the most extensive ferry service New York has had in decades, it has carried more than 2.5 million passengers, about 700,000 more than had been expected.

Though the number of people riding boats is tiny compared with the millions who squeeze onto the subway every day, the successful launch of the ferry system suggests that it could become a key part of the city’s transportation network.

“The mayor feels like this is one of the best things we’ve done,” Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said.The city had been running a more modest subsidized ferry service on the East River before the de Blasio administration decided to lower the fare to match the subway’s and expand the service to waterfront neighborhoods that the subway does not reach. The city’s investment, which could exceed $325 million by 2023, is one of the most ambitious attempts to change the menu of commuting options in New York.

A passenger has plenty of room on a recent Sunday trip from Manhattan to the Rockaways in Queens. But crowded boats are more typical with many riders using the ferries as an alternative to the city’s delay-plagued subway system. CreditChristian Hansen for The New York Times
Whether the city can afford to underwrite so much of the cost remains to be seen, but some riders, especially those who are refugees from the delay-plagued subway, have already become enamored regulars.

“Everybody loves it,” said Kathleen Warnock, who since August has been riding sleek boats instead of packed subway trains between her home in Astoria, Queens, and her job in Lower Manhattan. “They’re voting with their feet. This is the way they want to get to work.”

The ferry service’s robust growth has not come without problems — inspections by the Coast Guard revealed that a mechanical problem had caused pitting in the hulls of some boats. That problem, first reported by The New York Post, has taken six ferries out of service and Mr. de Blasio has ordered an investigation. Officials said the problems posed no safety risk and that the company that operates the ferry, not the city, would bear the repair costs. On Monday, a ferry ran aground as it left a pier in Manhattan though no one was hurt.

Despite the setbacks, the demand for waterborne transportation is also fueling the expansion of commuter ferry service across the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey. New York Waterway, which operates several routes on the river, added service recently between Midtown Manhattan and Hoboken and Jersey City.

Across the country, other cities, including Boston and New Orleans, are exploring ways of increasing passenger-ferry service as a way to improve transportation. Boston Harbor Now, a nonprofit, is studying how to add to the city’s ferry network. The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority plans to expand service on the Mississippi River.

Ms. Glen said New York’s ferry service represented a strategic investment in improving transit options in neighborhoods across the city, especially those where a forest of high-rise towers have drawn new residents. Besides providing another option to an antiquated and unreliable subway, Ms. Glen said the ferry connections could breathe more life into some neighborhoods by spurring development.

Photo

Two of the ferry’s four lines are already carrying more passengers than had been projected for 2019, city officials said. CreditChristian Hansen for The New York Times
City officials promoted the ferry service as an enticement to Amazon in their bid to lure its second headquarters to the city, Ms. Glen said. She emphasized that NYC Ferry is not a typical point-to-point service but a system whose map looks more like that of a subway or railroad network, making multiple stops before reaching its final destination.

The service is scheduled to expand next year, adding routes to Soundview in the Bronx and the Upper East Side of Manhattan, as well as the Lower East Side. But the operators are already considering going further, Ms. Glen said.

Terry MacRae, the chief executive of Hornblower, a San Francisco-based company that operates the ferries, said the service might benefit from express boats that skip stops “like an express train when you’ve already got the milk run.” At peak travel times, boats might run directly from one high-volume stop on a route, say Long Island City, to an endpoint like Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan.

A key reason the ferry service has become so appealing is its low fare: $2.75 each way. While most ferry services are priced like luxury transportation alternatives, Mr. de Blasio insisted on pegging the cost to the fare for a single ride on the subway and city buses.

As a result, however, the ferries are heavily subsidized. City officials estimate that the subsidy amounts to about $6.60 per rider, which would translate to about $16.5 million so far. (New York City already operates the far older Staten Island Ferry, which is free and connects Manhattan and Staten Island.)

Starting the new service has proved more expensive than forecast, but city officials have not flinched at the rising cost. The city’s Economic Development Corporation spent $30 million on the ferry service in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

“My thing is to make people happy,” said Milton Scott, who works as a deckhand for the ferries.CreditChristian Hansen for The New York Times
This summer, it had to charter additional boats, at a cost of $500,000, to handle large crowds on weekends. The surging popularity also spurred the city to order bigger boats, with a capacity of 349 passengers, instead of boats that could fit 149 riders, which the city originally had built. This month the Development Corporation’s board approved the construction of three more of the bigger boats, for a total of six. It has 16 smaller boats.

The city has an option to buy the boats from Hornblower and Hornblower has an option to demand that the city buy the boats. So no future mayor could easily or inexpensively eliminate the service.

A future mayor could decide to raise fares to reduce the city’s subsidy, but Ms. Glen said the current administration is committed to keeping the cost of the ferry in line with the base subway and bus fare.

Any ferry service expansion will be less challenging than this spring’s launch. Hornblower was having boats driven to New York as fast as two shipyards on the Gulf Coast could turn them out.

“We’ve scaled a steep mountain and we’re still climbing,” Mr. MacRae said.

Indeed, NYC Ferry has still not moved into its permanent home at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The city is outfitting a pier there that will serve as the base of operations for the fleet and its crews. Cameron Clark, who runs the service for Hornblower, and his staff have had to operate out of a WeWork building on Wall Street, where they share work spaces with other tenants.

While reviews from riders have been generally positive, there have been complaints about boats running late and being so full that they leave people behind. City officials said they hope to placate riders by next summer with a bigger fleet.

Caitlin Casella, left, and Alex Casella admire the views while riding the ferry on a recent Sunday. City officials promoted the ferry service to Amazon in their bid to lure it to the city.CreditChristian Hansen for The New York Times
Another way that ferry operators eased some of the unhappiness was by hiring people like Milton Scott. Mr. Scott, who lives in Brooklyn, was working for NYC Ferry’s landlord in Lower Manhattan when Mr. Clark decided that Mr. Scott’s flair for hospitality would be a good fit.

Mr. Scott now works as a deckhand, spending days riding back and forth on the long run between Manhattan and the Rockaways. “My thing is to make people happy,” Mr. Scott said. “When they get onto the vessel, they’re looking to relax and decompress, which you’re not able to do on the M.T.A., because of the crowds and the service disruptions.”

Ms. Warnock, 57, was quick to abandon her daily ride on the N/W subway line for the comforts of the ferry, which lands several blocks from her home in Astoria.

“Oh my gosh, this is a perfect commute,” she said, waxing on about the sights along the water. “It’s really improved my quality of life.”

For Alexandra Stathis, who lives near the river in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the ferry provides a respite from the “crowded and stressful” subway, in one direction at least.

Ms. Stathis, 28, said she and her boyfriend ride the ferry to East 34th Street in Manhattan every morning. From there, she usually hops on a free NYC Ferry shuttle bus to get to her office. But in the evenings, she said, she usually rides the subway home.

In comparison to the subway, she said, the ferry has been “extremely pleasant” and punctual.

That sort of reaction reflects what Ms. Glen, the deputy mayor, calls the “happiness factor” the ferries have produced. “We have qualitatively changed people’s transit experiences,” she said.

But she admitted that there was one review of the ferry service that was especially satisfying. She recounted receiving a note from her father in which he said: “I’m on a boat back from Rockaway with a Brooklyn lager in my hand. My life is complete. I’m so glad I had you.”

Stop Union Busting on the Waterfront!

by Ben Fletcher Wednesday, Dec. 06, 2006 at 10:56 PM

In a show of solidarity ILWU Local 10 voted for a port-wide shutdown in support of the IBU & MMP workers. This is call for all union members and their allies to join us on the picket line Pier 31/33, The Embarcadero, San Francisco, December 9, 2006 at 10 AM.

For more information, please visit alcatrazunion.com.

Stop Union Busting on the Waterfront

For the past two months Bay Area maritime union members have been picketing daily in a struggle to maintain union wages and working conditions.

Terry MacRae's Alcatraz Cruises (a subsidiary of Hornblower) refuses to hire IBU and MM&P members who have worked on the Alcatraz ferry since 1973.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union was born out of the 1934 San Francisco Maritime and General Strike.

Since then, the ILWU has maintained good wages and working conditions on the entire Bay Area waterfront. The current assault by Hornblower is a direct attack at the heart of ILWU jurisdiction and demands a powerful response!

ILWU Local 10 voted to hold a port-wide stop-work meeting and port shutdown in solidarity with the IBU & MMP workers.

This is call for all union members and their allies to join us for the march at 9:15 AM and on the picket line at 10 AM on December 9.

An Injury to One is an Injury to All!

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area:

9:15 AM, September 9, 2006 - March
10:00 AM, September 9. 2006 - Mass Picket
If you live outsisde of the San Francisco Bay Area - visit this page.

Editorial, by Jack Heyman, ILWU Local 10 - The challenge to labor

San Francisco has been a solidly union town since the historic 1934 maritime strike of sailors and longshoremen which turned into a citywide General Strike after two strikers were killed by police. The strikers' slogan then was, "An injury to one is an injury to all." Now, every July 5, "Bloody Thursday," West Coast ports close from the Canadian to the Mexican border to commemorate the six union members killed during the militant strike that forged the organized labor movement.

But is San Francisco still a union town?

For the first time since that 1934 strike, a nonunion maritime company has begun operating on the Embarcadero. Hornblower Cruises and Events, owned by Terry McRae, was awarded a 10-year contract by the National Park Service (NPS) last year to provide ferry service to Alcatraz Island. Some 50 workers, represented by the Inlandboatmen's Union (IBU) and the Masters, Mates and Pilots Union (MMP), with decent working conditions, wages and family health insurance, lost their jobs. They've been picketing, along with their supporters, at Pier 33 on the Embarcadero for the past two months, as McRae refuses to negotiate.

In response, the San Francisco longshore union voted to shut down all Bay Area ports and hold a stop-work meeting and mass picket in solidarity with its sister IBU local, which is affiliated to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). In 2003, the Los Angeles longshore union took similar action, shutting down the largest port in the United States and marching in solidarity with striking grocery-store workers. In 2000, when the jobs of Charleston, S.C., longshore workers had been taken over by a nonunion stevedore operator, they, much as the Alcatraz ferry workers, protested by picketing. They were attacked by riot police with many injured and five arrested. The ILWU went to their defense. Known as the Charleston 5 campaign, it became a cause celebre of the American labor movement and is one of the few shining examples of labor's power in recent years.

Much has changed since the days when a freighter's cargo was "hand-jived" by gangs of longshoremen or when ferries would carry passengers from Oakland to San Francisco. Containerization and bridges have changed the face of the waterfront.

One of the most significant measures of change, perhaps, is the integration of women into the workforce. Nowadays, the "first lady" in the Port of Oakland is a black mother who operates a container crane. And the regional director of the IBU is Marina Secchitano, who in the fight to defend her union and her members' jobs, refuses to back down in the face of corporate intimidation. Twice arrested by police, Secchitano is determined to achieve justice for her union members, who have been diligently working the Alcatraz Ferry since it began operations in 1973 and now find themselves replaced, like the Charleston longshoremen.

While Hornblower maintains a callous disregard for the lives of the workers who made the Alcatraz run into the success that it has become, the company portrays itself as environmentally conscious. U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilkins has ruled that the Service Contract Act, which requires a successor of a federal contract to pay the same level of wages and benefits as the previous employer, applies to Hornblower. But who today believes that justice can be achieved through government agencies and courts? Certainly not when judges rule that corporations can rip up with impunity labor contracts that provide for workers' pensions, health benefits and wages, as happened to workers at Bethlehem Steel and United Airlines. Some judges have barred workers from striking in response.

In this atmosphere of one-sided class war, if unions are to survive as independent organizations that represent the democratic will of workers, then they will have to exercise their power -- even if that means defying unjust laws. That's what the civil rights movement did in the '60s and the labor movement did before that in the '30s.

If nonunion companies, such as Hornblower can operate with federal blessing, then others will follow and the days of unions on the San Francisco waterfront are numbered.

Is an injury to one still an injury to all? If so, will unions take the necessary action? That is the challenge of organized labor today.

www.alcatrazunion.com

Tags: Terry MacRaeAlcatraz Hornblower
Categories: Labor News

EED - Resumen conflicto de la estiba-EED - Summary of the stowage conflict

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 19:46

EED - Resumen conflicto de la estiba
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=share&v=O6ztgYtpftE&app=desktop
El Estrecho Digital

Published on Jul 3, 201
7
Hacemos un repaso a los principales momentos del conflicto de la estiba que, desde el minuto uno, El Estrecho Digital ha querido seguido, estando al pie de la noticia, adelantando la mayoría de los avances que se iban dando en las negociaciones, tratando de contar con el máximo rigor periodístico cualquier paso que se daba para lograr el fin de un conflicto que celebramos junto a los miles de lectores que cada día nos siguen y, en especial, por la tranquilidad que pueda llegar a partir de ahora a esos 1.800 estibadores, y sus familias, del puerto de Algeciras. Enhorabuena y ¡ni un paso atrás!.

EED - Summary of the stowage conflict
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=share&v=O6ztgYtpftE&app=desktop
The Digital Strait

Published on Jul 3, 201
7
We review the main moments of the stowage conflict that, from the minute one, El Estrecho Digital has wanted followed, being at the bottom of the news, anticipating most of the advances that were taking place in the negotiations, trying to tell with the maximum journalistic rigor any step that was taken to achieve the end of a conflict that we celebrate together with the thousands of readers who follow us every day and, especially, for the peace of mind that can come from now to those 1,800 stevedores, and their families, from the port of Algeciras. Congratulations and not a step back !.

Tags: port of Algeciraslongshore workers struggle
Categories: Labor News

EED - Resumen conflicto de la estiba-EED - Summary of the stowage conflict

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 19:46

EED - Resumen conflicto de la estiba
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=share&v=O6ztgYtpftE&app=desktop
El Estrecho Digital

Published on Jul 3, 201
7
Hacemos un repaso a los principales momentos del conflicto de la estiba que, desde el minuto uno, El Estrecho Digital ha querido seguido, estando al pie de la noticia, adelantando la mayoría de los avances que se iban dando en las negociaciones, tratando de contar con el máximo rigor periodístico cualquier paso que se daba para lograr el fin de un conflicto que celebramos junto a los miles de lectores que cada día nos siguen y, en especial, por la tranquilidad que pueda llegar a partir de ahora a esos 1.800 estibadores, y sus familias, del puerto de Algeciras. Enhorabuena y ¡ni un paso atrás!.

EED - Summary of the stowage conflict
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=share&v=O6ztgYtpftE&app=desktop
The Digital Strait

Published on Jul 3, 201
7
We review the main moments of the stowage conflict that, from the minute one, El Estrecho Digital has wanted followed, being at the bottom of the news, anticipating most of the advances that were taking place in the negotiations, trying to tell with the maximum journalistic rigor any step that was taken to achieve the end of a conflict that we celebrate together with the thousands of readers who follow us every day and, especially, for the peace of mind that can come from now to those 1,800 stevedores, and their families, from the port of Algeciras. Congratulations and not a step back !.

Tags: port of Algeciraslongshore workers struggle
Categories: Labor News

Protesting workers at bankrupt Air Berlin denounce Merkel government

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 11:45

Protesting workers at bankrupt Air Berlin denounce Merkel government
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/11/27/prot-n27.html
By Gustav Kemper
27 November 2017
More than a thousand employees of the insolvent airline Air Berlin protested last Wednesday in front of Berlin Central Station to oppose mass layoffs. The workers were accompanied with family members and supporters from all over Germany
Insolvency proceedings were officially opened on 1 November, after Lufthansa agreed to take over 81 Air Berlin aircraft, plus Air Berlin’s landing rights at various airports. The British airline EasyJet secured another 20 aircraft. Other bidders that offered to take over the Air Berlin workforce were not taken into account by the insolvency administrator and the German government.
Demonstrators were angry and fiercely criticised the way the deal had been reached behind their backs by the German government, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr and Air Berlin CEO Thomas Winkelmann.

The protest in front of the main terminal
Both Lufthansa and EasyJet refused to take on the staff of Air Berlin. Instead employees are being told to reapply for jobs at Eurowings-Europe, a Lufthansa subsidiary based in Vienna, on terms well below their previous salaries.
The demonstration was organised by a group headed by a stewardess from Düsseldorf, Chantal Meyer, who has worked for the company since 2004. She spoke to the World Socialist Web Site at the rally held in front of the Chancellery in Berlin.
"We are currently in revocable release from work, which means we have nothing to do, a lot of time on our hands, and no income, unfortunately, because there are no funds left following bankruptcy proceedings." Affected are thousands of Air Berlin workers. Only around 1,700 employees of the Air Berlin subsidiary Niki, headquartered in Vienna, have retained their jobs.
Meyer organised the protest to demonstrate "that we will not be blackmailed into reapplying for our own jobs." Air Berlin workers applying for position as the rival cheap fare Eurowings company will face estimated wage cuts of 40 percent, and up to 50 to 60 percent for pilots, depending on professional experience.
Meyer and her supporters organised a petition to pressure Lufthansa and the UAE Etihad air company to take the Air Berlin workers and the company’s aircraft. The petition had been signed by 46,123 persons prior to the rally.
The hopes of the protesters are based on paragraph 613a of the German Civil Code (BGB), which protects workforces in company takeovers--at least for a limited time. So far, Lufthansa has justified its refusal to abide by the code by arguing that the law only concerned the takeover of entire concerns, but not the transfer of parts of a company, such as the 81 Air Berlin aircraft.
During the rally, the petition was handed to Gregor Gysi, a leader of the Left Party in the German parliament, who was to hand it to Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Responding to the WSWS's question as to why she placed her hopes in Gysi, a politician who had supported the privatisation of airport ground operations in Berlin ten years ago, which resulted in drastic cuts to pay and working conditions, Chantal Meyer naively responded, "The Gysi of today is not the Gysi of that time."
Gysi read his letter to Chancellor Merkel during the rally. It consisted of a worthless plea that she “take seriously the indignation and despair” of Air Berlin workers. Any hope among workers that such appeals will change the mind of the German chancellor is completely unfounded. Just this summer Merkel flew to Abu Dhabi, along with Lufthansa chief Spohr and Air Berlin CEO Winkelmann, to discuss a takeover of Lufthansa by the Saudi airline Etihad, a move that would result in further attacks on airline workers.
In discussions with WSWS reporters, several protesters explained why many Air Berlin workers were not registering as unemployed with the Federal Labor Office, a fact that the news media has greeted with amazed disbelief.

Protest against Air Berlin boss Winkelmann
Sabine who has worked as a flight attendant at Air Berlin for 17 years described the paradoxical situation. "We are revocable, which means theoretically we can be called back to work, although we have already been instructed to destroy our uniforms." In the event of an irrevocable release from work, she could apply for a job elsewhere or register as unemployed but she did not want to simply quit because "Then I would give up any rights I have to entitlements from Air Berlin", she explained. In addition, other airlines were not offering part-time employment. She has two small children and cannot accept full-time work.
"We have not seen much of the union since the bankruptcy", she replied when asked about the role of the Verdi public sector worker union in the labor dispute. "They should have been active much earlier, but Christine Behle [board member of Verdi] also sits on the supervisory board of Lufthansa," she said, before adding. "It all seems rather corrupt.”
Sabine went on, “Mr. Winkelmann was also with Lufthansa for a long time, before he became our CEO and was able to guarantee his salary with a bank guarantee of 4.5 million euros. He is also a good buddy of Carsten Spohr, the head of Lufthansa."
Daniela, a flight attendant for 15 years, said, "We have done all we can to save the airline for the past three months, since August. We knew it was faring badly, but we always thought that somebody would take care of us and we would obtain secure employment from the new purchasers of the planes. Now we know better. After three months came the so-called ‘revocable release from work’ and now we are all out of a job", she concluded.
Along with Gregor Gysi, the deputy regional director of Verdi Berlin-Brandenburg, Roland Tremper, also addressed the rally. Tremper began by declaring, “Our social system is defined by providing people with a perspective and giving workers and their families an opportunity to live a socially secure and peaceful life”, he said, in remarks that bore little relation to reality.
After a number of accusations against the policy of the Federal Government and the irresponsibility of the company chiefs, Spohr and Winkelmann, Tremper admitted he was also chair of a management committee at the employment agency in Berlin. A week ago, he said, he received an application for mass layoffs of ground staff.
Tremper reported that he rejected any request to approve layoffs that came in the form of a written letter or a teleconference. Instead he demanded a face-to-face meeting so he could look others in the eye and see who was really willing to agree to the dismissal of hundreds of workers. In a few weeks, he would do the same when the application for the mass sacking of cabin crew staff arrived.
"I do not know if it helps. But whether it helps or not, we will not just do via the phone or at the warm desk, definitely not", he impotently declared.
Whether on the telephone, at the desk or via direct eye contact the decision remains the same, with devastating results for Air Berlin employees.

Tags: Air BerlinLeft Partylufthansa
Categories: Labor News

For Flight Attendants, Sexual Assault Isn’t Just Common, It’s Almost A Given

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 11:30

For Flight Attendants, Sexual Assault Isn’t Just Common, It’s Almost A Given
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/sexual-assault-flight-attendants_us...
By Jamie Feldman/Huffpost.com

“One, it’s a confined space, where flight attendants are charged with de-escalating conflict every single day,” she said.
“I had a conversation with a group of flight attendants ranging from six months seniority to 10 years on Friday and the conversation
basically was, ‘We have to de-escalate everything and sometimes I just choose not to say anything.’ ‘If someone grabs my
butt or pulls me onto their lap, I tell them to knock it off and keep going.’” (See below)

Flight attendant Caroline Bright was kicking off her last shift of the day when she realized one of the pilots on board reminded her of someone.

“I was trying to figure it out, was it a celebrity?” she told HuffPost. “Who does he remind me of?” He looked like her dad, she realized.

“When we landed and were waiting for the van to the hotel, I told him I’d figured it out,” she said. ”I told him, ‘You look like just my dad.’ I had a picture of him on my phone, which I showed to the first officer. ‘Doesn’t he look just like my dad?’” she recalled asking him. ”‘I think they look so similar.’”

The pilot’s response? ”‘It’s been a long time since a girl like you called me daddy,’” she said.

“I felt so grossed out. I turned and looked at the officer and gave him an expression like, ‘What just happened?’ And he just looked at me and shrugged. I remember thinking at the time that I must have said something inappropriate.”

Based on accounts shared with HuffPost from both current and former flight attendants, Bright’s story is among many instances of sexual harassment and assault in the skies. As more and more stories of sexual assault across industries come to the forefront, it’s impossible to ignore the dynamics of the airline industry, which are inherently gendered with origins in the sexualization of women.

From unwanted advances to groping and forced physical contact, assault and harassment are realities seemingly accepted as commonplace by the flight attendants we spoke with, all of whom attested to various levels of unwanted physical contact during their time on the job.

It’s what drives some people, like former flight attendant Lanelle Henderson, out.

Henderson worked for now-defunct Kiwi Airlines in the ’90s and again for a little under a year for now-defunct Airtran in 2004. She told HuffPost that it was her experience in the 2000s that turned her off from remaining in the industry.

Once, a male passenger who’d been drinking began making advances toward her throughout a flight to Dallas–Fort Worth, she told HuffPost.

“He would first grab my hand and compliment me, which in the beginning was flattering,” she said. “But then he grabbed and rubbed my leg. It was mostly embarrassing because the man behind him was looking at me as if to say, ‘What are you going to do?’ And I was just startled and a newbie and trying to be polite.”

Henderson said that the customer blocked her in the galley from moving between cabins. He eventually grabbed her butt. “The man behind him said, ‘Sir, enough already. This girl is not here for your pleasure.’” she said.

Flight attendants told HuffPost that the “customer is always right” attitude mandated by much of the service industry often prevents many flight attendants from confronting in-flight harassment themselves, Henderson said.

Dawn Arthur also became disillusioned during eight years working as a flight attendant in both the commercial and private sector.

“I was really excited [before I became a flight attendant],” she said. “I thought it was so cool. But then you find out that there is no support in the industry. The pilots aren’t trained to handle assault and they don’t want to hear it. It’s not their job.”

Arthur, who told HuffPost she’s been “pushed into a corner and felt up” by passengers, said flight attendants may feel discouraged from taking action in order to avoid an in-flight delay or disturbance.

“If someone grabs you or threatens you, nothing is going to happen. They’re on a tight timetable. They’re not going to stop the plane. And then everyone’s going to be mad at you; you’re not a team player, you’re difficult.”

If there is a trend of keeping assault to oneself in the airline industry, former flight attendant Mandalena Lewis has broken it in a big way. She has not only spoken about her own alleged assault but is in the midst of a lawsuit against her former employer, Canadian airline WestJet, in part, she said, for firing her as a result.

According to Lewis, the company neglected to adequately handle not only her experience with sexual assault in 2010, but with a group of women she is now representing in her case.

Lewis recounted her assault to HuffPost, which happened during a layover in Maui in 2010. She said the incident ultimately led her to firing and discovery of other women who made claims against the same pilot who she said attacked her.

“We were on a layover in Maui, and the whole crew went out for dinner and drinks, totally standard,” she said. “The captain invited people up to his room. It was my second year of being a flight attendant and I was down to go up to the room and have a drink. I ended up going by myself. The first officer’s room was right next door and their door was open a bit.”

Lewis said the pilot had been acting “very father-like” up until that point, when the two of them went on the balcony. “There was nothing inappropriate and I didn’t send him any signals,” she said. “On the balcony, he started asking me really inappropriate questions: do I touch myself privately, do I masturbate, things like that.”

When she turned to leave, that’s when she said the pilot started to attack her. “It started almost like horseplay, gradually becoming more aggressive,” she said. Lewis said he attacked her three times. The first and second involved grabbing her from behind, squeezing her arms and commenting on how strong she was.

“The third time, he grabbed me and put me on the bed and got between my legs,” she said. “He touched my face and told me I wanted it and how strong I was.”

Lewis said she got her heels underneath him and kicked him off of her. “He fell backward into the TV stand. I was shaking, tears were coming down my face.” Lewis said that the airline took her off of flights with the pilot but did not take action to fire him.

It was in 2015 when she says she spoke up about the lack of training surrounding sexual assault during a crew resource management class. She said her concerns were brushed off by the person leading the training, but there were a few people who came over afterward and thanked her for speaking out.

“A few months later, I was on a layover in Toronto and I got a Facebook message from a woman who told me she was in the room during the training,” she said. “She asked if she could call me to tell me her story.”

“Sure enough, she told me that she was raped in 2008 by the same pilot. We didn’t know each others’ stories and we didn’t know each other,” she said.

Lewis told HuffPost both hired lawyers pretty quickly after that, but the other woman later settled with the company. “We dropped the class-action suit and I went forward as an individual case for wrongful dismissal and negligence” in early 2016.

The airline has disputed the claims — as recently as Nov. 9, saying employees should be bringing their cases “to human rights tribunals and workers’ compensation boards instead” of filing a lawsuit, according to Global News. Robert Palmer, manager of public relations for WestJet, declined to comment on “ongoing legal proceedings,” but said the company is “committed to fostering a harassment-free workplace where all employees are treated with respect and dignity.”

While the demographics for flight attendants vary slightly by airline and have shifted over the years, the industry is still majority female ― about 80 percent. But men in the field say they’ve also dealt with unwanted advances.

A male JetBlue flight attendant, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told HuffPost he has been grabbed inappropriately multiple times by both men and women. Passengers commonly make comments referring to the mile-high club and “getting him in the back of the plane.”

In the event that a situation escalates, flight crew can notify the pilot, who will decide whether it is necessary to take action, either by speaking to the passenger themselves or, in extreme cases, removing the person from the flight. “Ten out of 10 times they have our side, but diverting and removing a person from the flight is obviously our last option,” he said.

For the people we spoke to, shrugging inappropriate behavior off had become commonplace. Many said even if they wanted to do something about it, the training isn’t there.

Sara Nelson is the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA as well as a 21-year flight attendant with United Airlines. She told HuffPost that in her experience ― along with the experience of some of the 50,000 flight attendants across the 20 airlines the association represents ― there is no exact protocol on how to handle it.

“There is very little training. It’s nonexistent, actually,” she said. “There is training on how to handle assault and aggressive behavior on a plane, but there is no recognition of sexual assault as a unique crime.”

She added that for a flight attendant tasked with getting a job done, it’s easier to just keep things moving than to confront a passenger or bring it to the pilot’s attention.

“One, it’s a confined space, where flight attendants are charged with de-escalating conflict every single day,” she said. “I had a conversation with a group of flight attendants ranging from six months seniority to 10 years on Friday and the conversation basically was, ‘We have to de-escalate everything and sometimes I just choose not to say anything.’ ‘If someone grabs my butt or pulls me onto their lap, I tell them to knock it off and keep going.’”

If allegations in other industries have pushed the conversation forward to put an end to assault, it has also emboldened people who Nelson say feel like they’re “out of the public eye” in the air.

“A flight attendant relayed a situation this week where a guy in the last few rows spoke up and said, ‘When can we get some drinks around here, honey?’” she said. While the flight attendant was still in earshot, Nelson said he loudly added, “‘You can probably get sued for calling someone honey nowadays,’” laughing with the men sitting around him.

Nelson told HuffPost she thinks things have perhaps gotten worse since she started in 1996, due to planes these days being more crowded than ever and equipped with less staff. “In a casual request from our membership about what’s happening today on the plane, we were barraged with examples,” she said.

Flight attendants who worked in the ’60s and ’70s might argue the notion that it is worse, now, though. A Facebook group titled Stewardesses of the 1960s and 1970s, which boasts more than 9,000 members, has a recently posted thread asking members about sexual assault that currently has more than 400 comments.

In spite of the frequency of sexual assault in the air, Nelson told HuffPost that she thinks the CEOs of airlines (most of whom are men) would be “shocked” to find out what’s going on on their planes.

“Men don’t think about this stuff,” she said. “It’s not their experience. They have no idea what it’s like. And even if they are someone who doesn’t participate, I bet if these men are really going to be honest, even the ones who would never do it themselves, have absolutely been sitting there and have done nothing while it’s happening.”

Still, Nelson has hope. “Any time an issue is raised, there is opportunity for change, but I think we are just at the very beginning of the conversation here,” she said, adding, “It doesn’t have to be this way. The more we talk about it and say it’s not OK, the better it will get.”

Tags: Flight AttendantsSexual Harassmentairline workers
Categories: Labor News

Port Automation, Technology & Labour Relations-Professor Raquel Varela

Sat, 11/25/2017 - 08:27

Port Automation, Technology & Labour Relations-Professor Raquel Varela
https://vimeo.com/244152634
Maritime Union of AustraliaPR

Professor Raquel Varela - Historian and expert in port automation, Institute of Contemporary History, Lisbon New University , Portugal. She made this report at an MUA Queensland global labour conference in 2017

Additional information
https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/muanational/pages/7749/attachments...
https://youtu.be/SNcU37rL2Ng
Rachel Varela who is a history professor and researcher at IISH, UFF, UNL in Lisbon, Portugal discusses the attacks on dockers, shipyard workers, technology and imperialism on 7/17/17 in San Francisco.
For more information:
AUTOMATION IN PORTS AND LABOUR RELATIONS IN XXI CENTURY-Raquel Varela International Dock Workers Council Miami Meeting SEP 2016
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGTcJXCDjq0
For more information
AUTOMATION IN PORTS AND LABOUR RELATIONS IN XXI CENTURY
https://raquelcardeiravarela.wordpress.com/2017/07/20/automation-in-port...
Posted on July 20, 2017
By Raquel Varela, labour historian IISH, UFF, UNL) , Henrique Silveira, mathematician (IST)
Abstract. In this part of the work we analyse mathematically the costs and benefits of automation in ports. In particular we analyse automation in cranes and its implications to labour, unemployment, and net nancial benets and losses for the operators. We studied the concept of eciency viewed by operators and by port clients. We concluded that automation is in general not protable for the operators. We discussed brie y the losses for the public of the automation process, measured in net loss of taxes collected by the states and by unemployment subsidies conceded to discharged dockers. Finally we discussed the losses in GNP generated by the processes of automation. This is a general study using averages to generate general results applicable to almost all cases, we had to make general simplifying assumptions always trying to minimize possible errors. Particular studies can be rened with actual data
from each local port and social and legislative data for each particular country.
In the second part of this work in the rst section we relate the analysis of precarious work to the state, in particular, as a direct participant functioning as both employer and mediator. In the second section we present a short overview of the evolution of casualization in the context of employment and unemployment in contemporary Portugal (1974-2014). In the third section we discuss state policies on labour relations, particularly in the context of the welfare state. Finally, we compare this present analysis with Swedish research done from the perspective of the state as a direct participant and mediator
over the past four decades.
Full study in pdf
https://raquelcardeiravarela.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/studyautomation...

Tags: Port automationMUARaquel Varela
Categories: Labor News

Port Automation, Technology & Labour Relations-Professor Raquel Varela

Sat, 11/25/2017 - 08:27

Port Automation, Technology & Labour Relations-Professor Raquel Varela
https://vimeo.com/244152634
Maritime Union of AustraliaPR

Professor Raquel Varela - Historian and expert in port automation, Institute of Contemporary History, Lisbon New University , Portugal. She made this report at an MUA Queensland global labour conference in 2017

Additional information
https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/muanational/pages/7749/attachments...
https://youtu.be/SNcU37rL2Ng
Rachel Varela who is a history professor and researcher at IISH, UFF, UNL in Lisbon, Portugal discusses the attacks on dockers, shipyard workers, technology and imperialism on 7/17/17 in San Francisco.
For more information:
AUTOMATION IN PORTS AND LABOUR RELATIONS IN XXI CENTURY-Raquel Varela International Dock Workers Council Miami Meeting SEP 2016
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGTcJXCDjq0
For more information
AUTOMATION IN PORTS AND LABOUR RELATIONS IN XXI CENTURY
https://raquelcardeiravarela.wordpress.com/2017/07/20/automation-in-port...
Posted on July 20, 2017
By Raquel Varela, labour historian IISH, UFF, UNL) , Henrique Silveira, mathematician (IST)
Abstract. In this part of the work we analyse mathematically the costs and benefits of automation in ports. In particular we analyse automation in cranes and its implications to labour, unemployment, and net nancial benets and losses for the operators. We studied the concept of eciency viewed by operators and by port clients. We concluded that automation is in general not protable for the operators. We discussed brie y the losses for the public of the automation process, measured in net loss of taxes collected by the states and by unemployment subsidies conceded to discharged dockers. Finally we discussed the losses in GNP generated by the processes of automation. This is a general study using averages to generate general results applicable to almost all cases, we had to make general simplifying assumptions always trying to minimize possible errors. Particular studies can be rened with actual data
from each local port and social and legislative data for each particular country.
In the second part of this work in the rst section we relate the analysis of precarious work to the state, in particular, as a direct participant functioning as both employer and mediator. In the second section we present a short overview of the evolution of casualization in the context of employment and unemployment in contemporary Portugal (1974-2014). In the third section we discuss state policies on labour relations, particularly in the context of the welfare state. Finally, we compare this present analysis with Swedish research done from the perspective of the state as a direct participant and mediator
over the past four decades.
Full study in pdf
https://raquelcardeiravarela.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/studyautomation...

Tags: Port automationMUARaquel Varela
Categories: Labor News

Report of the Australia ‘Get Wise, Organise’ Queensland Conference At MUA Queensland-Global Solidarity Conference: Injecting Class Politics

Thu, 11/23/2017 - 18:36

Report of the Australia ‘Get Wise, Organise’ Queensland Conference At MUA Queensland-Global Solidarity Conference: Injecting Class Politics

https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/muanational/pages/7749/attachments...

Branch Biennial Conference

Global Solidarity Conference: Injecting Class Politics

– by Janet Burstall – photos by Mike Barber
THE THREAT OF massive job losses from automation on the wharves is a worldwide concern addressed at the Queensland MUA international conference. Professor Raquel Varela from Portugal explained that the decision by owners to introduce robots is both political and economic, and can be contested and beaten. There is not one single fully automated port in the world, robots have not yet achieved the same rate of unloading as worker operated machinery, and they are a very expensive investment that often relies on public subsidies. Her solutions to the threat of loss of jobs to robots include shorter working time hours without reducing salaries, and putting technology under the control of workers, not the dictatorship of the port owner.

to live. If the bosses do not have the same profits all the time, this will not question their life, their dignity. The right to have a profit is not the same as the right to have a salary.” Jason Miners, Deputy Branch Secretary, declared Raquel Varela’s presentation to be “the best injection of class politics into a conference that I have ever heard.”

Queensland MUA delegates learned about the vast differences around the world in freedom to organise, working conditions and threats to livelihoods when they heard in person from International Dockworkers Council branch delegates from Belgium, Spain, Argentina, France, USA, and from the Hong Kong Dockers Union, the Confederation of Congress of Indonesian Alliance of Unions (KASBI) and the International Transport Federation.

Members were gob smacked when a Hong Kong dock worker described 24 hour shifts for Hutchison on cranes with a piss pot on board. In both Hong Kong and Argentina, trade unionists have “disappeared”. Terribly low pay in Indonesia and Hong Kong was shocking. The IDC delegate from Le Havre in France was applauded when he said that workers at his port will not allow full

Raquel Varela speaking at the conference

She challenged casualisation and company power to demand profits, saying “we don’t have kids and houses for 3 months of the year, so why should we only work 3 months of the year? If we have no salary we have no way to live. If the bosses do not have the same profits all the time, this will not question their life, their dignity. The right to have a profit is not the same as the right to have a salary.” Jason Miners, Deputy Branch Secretary, declared Raquel Varela’s presentation to be “the best injection of class politics into a conference that I have ever heard.”

Queensland MUA delegates learned about the vast differences around the world in freedom to organise, working conditions and threats to livelihoods when they heard in person from International Dockworkers Council branch delegates from Belgium, Spain, Argentina, France, USA, and from the Hong Kong Dockers Union, the Confederation of Congress of Indonesian Alliance of Unions (KASBI) and the International Transport Federation.

Members were gob smacked when a Hong Kong dock worker described 24 hour shifts for Hutchison on cranes with a piss pot on board. In both Hong Kong and Argentina, trade unionists have “disappeared”. Terribly low pay in Indonesia and Hong Kong was shocking. The IDC delegate from Le Havre in France was applauded when he said that workers at his port will not allow full automation. The potential for international solidarity was made clear, and commitment to that solidarity visibly grew over the two-day conference.

Danger of serious injury and death at work was another common theme across the world discussed, with reports of recent serious incidents and a national report on what can be achieved through safety committees.

Minister Bailey and Peter Ong MUA Qld Conference 2017

“It’ll be grim under Tim” Nicholls if Labor loses the Queensland election. Peter Ong of the ETU, Ros McLennan of the QCU, David Greene of the MUA and the Qld MUA-backed candidate for the seat of Everton, and Labor Minister Mark Bailey all made the case for a Labor vote. Peter Ong recounted how the ETU had fought both Bligh Labor and Newman LNP governments to stop electricity privatisation, and ended up in hot debate about the value of affiliation to the ALP. ETU members decided to remain affiliates in order to get commitments to ETU policies and pro-union election candidates, as well as continuing public campaigns regardless of Labor election prospects.

Ros McLennan and David Greene addressing the conference

Professor David Peetz from Griffith University provided some figures and research on declining union density that suggested the best antidote to declining membership that unions could use right now is to make sure that delegates are part of democratic union decision-making, and effective activists in every workplace. Christy Cain from Western Australia reported some success in forming a young workers’ group within the MUA, and the NSW Branch is also trying this out.

Ged Kearney brought solidarity greetings from Australian Unions, and spoke about the new ‘Change the Rules’ campaign, asking everyone to complete the online survey for it.

A major component of Change the Rules is to restore legal rights for unions to organise and strike. Dave Noonan from the CFMEU and barrister Peter Morrissey SC also highlighted the problems of criminalizing industrial action and why unions should resist the law and order agenda in electoral politics.

Solidarity collections to support workers locked out for over 132 days at North Oaky by Glencore raised over $2800, to top up donations that had already been made by MUA Branches around Australia. And the MUA Queensland Branch is co-ordinating members to drive up to the North Oaky picket line.

Lots more than this happened at the conference, which is a great step forward for education, agitation, organisation and working-class solidarity. In closing the conference Queensland Branch Secretary, Bob Carnegie quoted American socialist, Eugene Debs:

“The labor movement is the child of slavery—the offspring of oppression—in revolt against the misery and suffering that gave it birth. Its splendid growth is the marvel of our time, the forerunner of freedom, the hope of mankind.

Ten thousand times has the labor movement stumbled and fallen and bruised itself, and risen again; been seized by the throat and choked and clubbed into insensibility; enjoined by courts, assaulted by thugs, charged by the militia, shot down by regulars, traduced by the press, frowned upon by public opinion, deceived by politicians, threatened by priests, repudiated by renegades, preyed upon by grafters, infested by spies, deserted by cowards, betrayed by traitors, bled by leeches, and sold out by leaders, but, notwithstanding all this, and all these, it is today the most vital and potential power this planet has ever known, and its historic mission of emancipating the workers of the world from the thraldom of the ages is as certain of ultimate realization as the setting of the sun. The most vital thing about this world movement is its educational propaganda-its capacity and power to shed light in the brain of the working class, arouse them from their torpor, develop their faculties for thinking, teach them their economic class interests, effect their solidarity, and imbue them with the spirit of the impending social revolution.”

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

Tags: MUA QueenslandBob CarnegiGlobal SolidarityClass Politics
Categories: Labor News

Report of the Australia ‘Get Wise, Organise’ Queensland Conference At MUA Queensland-Global Solidarity Conference: Injecting Class Politics

Thu, 11/23/2017 - 18:36

Report of the Australia ‘Get Wise, Organise’ Queensland Conference At MUA Queensland-Global Solidarity Conference: Injecting Class Politics

https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/muanational/pages/7749/attachments...

Branch Biennial Conference

Global Solidarity Conference: Injecting Class Politics

– by Janet Burstall – photos by Mike Barber
THE THREAT OF massive job losses from automation on the wharves is a worldwide concern addressed at the Queensland MUA international conference. Professor Raquel Varela from Portugal explained that the decision by owners to introduce robots is both political and economic, and can be contested and beaten. There is not one single fully automated port in the world, robots have not yet achieved the same rate of unloading as worker operated machinery, and they are a very expensive investment that often relies on public subsidies. Her solutions to the threat of loss of jobs to robots include shorter working time hours without reducing salaries, and putting technology under the control of workers, not the dictatorship of the port owner.

to live. If the bosses do not have the same profits all the time, this will not question their life, their dignity. The right to have a profit is not the same as the right to have a salary.” Jason Miners, Deputy Branch Secretary, declared Raquel Varela’s presentation to be “the best injection of class politics into a conference that I have ever heard.”

Queensland MUA delegates learned about the vast differences around the world in freedom to organise, working conditions and threats to livelihoods when they heard in person from International Dockworkers Council branch delegates from Belgium, Spain, Argentina, France, USA, and from the Hong Kong Dockers Union, the Confederation of Congress of Indonesian Alliance of Unions (KASBI) and the International Transport Federation.

Members were gob smacked when a Hong Kong dock worker described 24 hour shifts for Hutchison on cranes with a piss pot on board. In both Hong Kong and Argentina, trade unionists have “disappeared”. Terribly low pay in Indonesia and Hong Kong was shocking. The IDC delegate from Le Havre in France was applauded when he said that workers at his port will not allow full

Raquel Varela speaking at the conference

She challenged casualisation and company power to demand profits, saying “we don’t have kids and houses for 3 months of the year, so why should we only work 3 months of the year? If we have no salary we have no way to live. If the bosses do not have the same profits all the time, this will not question their life, their dignity. The right to have a profit is not the same as the right to have a salary.” Jason Miners, Deputy Branch Secretary, declared Raquel Varela’s presentation to be “the best injection of class politics into a conference that I have ever heard.”

Queensland MUA delegates learned about the vast differences around the world in freedom to organise, working conditions and threats to livelihoods when they heard in person from International Dockworkers Council branch delegates from Belgium, Spain, Argentina, France, USA, and from the Hong Kong Dockers Union, the Confederation of Congress of Indonesian Alliance of Unions (KASBI) and the International Transport Federation.

Members were gob smacked when a Hong Kong dock worker described 24 hour shifts for Hutchison on cranes with a piss pot on board. In both Hong Kong and Argentina, trade unionists have “disappeared”. Terribly low pay in Indonesia and Hong Kong was shocking. The IDC delegate from Le Havre in France was applauded when he said that workers at his port will not allow full automation. The potential for international solidarity was made clear, and commitment to that solidarity visibly grew over the two-day conference.

Danger of serious injury and death at work was another common theme across the world discussed, with reports of recent serious incidents and a national report on what can be achieved through safety committees.

Minister Bailey and Peter Ong MUA Qld Conference 2017

“It’ll be grim under Tim” Nicholls if Labor loses the Queensland election. Peter Ong of the ETU, Ros McLennan of the QCU, David Greene of the MUA and the Qld MUA-backed candidate for the seat of Everton, and Labor Minister Mark Bailey all made the case for a Labor vote. Peter Ong recounted how the ETU had fought both Bligh Labor and Newman LNP governments to stop electricity privatisation, and ended up in hot debate about the value of affiliation to the ALP. ETU members decided to remain affiliates in order to get commitments to ETU policies and pro-union election candidates, as well as continuing public campaigns regardless of Labor election prospects.

Ros McLennan and David Greene addressing the conference

Professor David Peetz from Griffith University provided some figures and research on declining union density that suggested the best antidote to declining membership that unions could use right now is to make sure that delegates are part of democratic union decision-making, and effective activists in every workplace. Christy Cain from Western Australia reported some success in forming a young workers’ group within the MUA, and the NSW Branch is also trying this out.

Ged Kearney brought solidarity greetings from Australian Unions, and spoke about the new ‘Change the Rules’ campaign, asking everyone to complete the online survey for it.

A major component of Change the Rules is to restore legal rights for unions to organise and strike. Dave Noonan from the CFMEU and barrister Peter Morrissey SC also highlighted the problems of criminalizing industrial action and why unions should resist the law and order agenda in electoral politics.

Solidarity collections to support workers locked out for over 132 days at North Oaky by Glencore raised over $2800, to top up donations that had already been made by MUA Branches around Australia. And the MUA Queensland Branch is co-ordinating members to drive up to the North Oaky picket line.

Lots more than this happened at the conference, which is a great step forward for education, agitation, organisation and working-class solidarity. In closing the conference Queensland Branch Secretary, Bob Carnegie quoted American socialist, Eugene Debs:

“The labor movement is the child of slavery—the offspring of oppression—in revolt against the misery and suffering that gave it birth. Its splendid growth is the marvel of our time, the forerunner of freedom, the hope of mankind.

Ten thousand times has the labor movement stumbled and fallen and bruised itself, and risen again; been seized by the throat and choked and clubbed into insensibility; enjoined by courts, assaulted by thugs, charged by the militia, shot down by regulars, traduced by the press, frowned upon by public opinion, deceived by politicians, threatened by priests, repudiated by renegades, preyed upon by grafters, infested by spies, deserted by cowards, betrayed by traitors, bled by leeches, and sold out by leaders, but, notwithstanding all this, and all these, it is today the most vital and potential power this planet has ever known, and its historic mission of emancipating the workers of the world from the thraldom of the ages is as certain of ultimate realization as the setting of the sun. The most vital thing about this world movement is its educational propaganda-its capacity and power to shed light in the brain of the working class, arouse them from their torpor, develop their faculties for thinking, teach them their economic class interests, effect their solidarity, and imbue them with the spirit of the impending social revolution.”

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

Tags: MUA QueenslandBob CarnegiGlobal SolidarityClass Politics
Categories: Labor News

UPS Teamsters Local 2727 aircraft mechanic workers claim holiday disaster looms as they threaten to strike

Thu, 11/23/2017 - 16:35

UPS aircraft mechanic workers claim holiday disaster looms as they threaten to strike
http://www.businessinsider.com/ups-workers-threaten-to-strike-2017-11

Hayley Peterson

Nov. 21, 2017, 5:14 PM 43,533

UPS aircraft mechanics are threatening to strike amid the busy holiday shipping season.REUTERS/John Sommers II

UPS aircraft mechanics are threatening to strike during the busy holiday shipping season
The workers are launching a national advertising campaign to fight what they are calling "massive reductions" to their health care benefits
UPS says customers "remain in good hands" during the holiday season and notes that workers cannot strike unless they are released from negotiations by the National Mediation Board

UPS workers are threatening to go on strike amid the busy holiday shipping season because of a disagreement over changes to their health care benefits.

UPS aircraft mechanics and related employees who maintain the company's air cargo fleet are taking out ads in USA Today and the Seattle Times that state: "What every American should know before they ship with UPS during the holidays: UPS wants to make deep cuts to its aircraft mechanics’ health care benefits. That’s why the 1,300 aircraft mechanics who keep UPS planes running during the holiday season are ready to strike."

The workers, represented by the Teamsters Local 2727 union, say UPS wants to make massive cuts to their health care benefits.

"The holiday shipping season is UPS’ busiest and most critical time, and before our customers ship with UPS, we want them to know about the instability in our already distressed workforce," Tim Boyle, president of Teamsters Local 2727, said in a statement. "The aircraft maintenance workforce is united and won’t let UPS executives gamble with our families’ health care."

UPS and the union have been in mediated contract negotiations over the changes. The union, which has voted to authorize a strike, recently filed a request with the Federal National Mediation Board asking to be released from the negotiations. The request was denied.

The workers cannot go on strike unless the board releases them from negotiations.

UPS says its customers "remain in good hands during the holidays" and said the aircraft mechanics' union's ads "include more of the same exaggerated rhetoric designed to pressure our ongoing labor contract negotiations."

"The reality is, under US labor law, these negotiations are controlled by the National Mediation Board, not the company or the union; talks continue to progress; and our aircraft mechanics will continue to have outstanding benefits, including great healthcare coverage," UPS said in a statement. "UPS aircraft mechanics enjoy one of the most attractive compensation packages in commercial aviation. When factoring in wages, pension, 401(k) and benefits, the annual value of their total compensation package exceeds $140,000."

UPS said it believes the negotiations will result in a "win-win contract, just as in all of our previous mechanic negotiations."

"UPS remains ready to meet with the union under the authority of the NMB and will work toward a successful agreement," the company said.

Tags: IBT 2727UPS mechanicscontract negotiations
Categories: Labor News

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