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Fleet Memo for September 2 2017

IBU - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 15:46
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Categories: Unions

USA: Is Trump Really Pro-Worker?

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 09/04/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: NYT
Categories: Labor News

Canada: Canada demands U.S. end ‘right to work’ laws as part of NAFTA talks

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 09/03/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Globe and Mail
Categories: Labor News

UK: McDonald's faces first UK industrial action

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 09/03/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: BBC
Categories: Labor News

UK: Poverty, illness, homelessness – no wonder McDonald’s UK workers are going on strike

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 09/03/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Guardian
Categories: Labor News

Boston area transit privatization plan goes forward amid allegations of corruption/mismanagement

Current News - Sun, 09/03/2017 - 14:40

Boston area transit privatization plan goes forward amid allegations of corruption/mismanagement
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/09/02/mbta-s02.html
By John Marion
2 September 2017
The privatization of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) serving greater Boston is moving forward, amidst allegations of mismanagement and corruption on the part of state officials. This has included the hiring of a General Executive to head the system with no previous transportation experience and conflicts of interest in the hiring of contractors.
After record snowfalls in February 2015 caused the near-collapse of Boston’s public transportation system, the administration of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker jumped at the opportunity to use the crisis as an excuse for the privatization of the system. The MBTA — including buses, subways, trolleys, and heavy commuter rail — had been a public agency for more than 50 years.
Baker created an unelected Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB), which has attacked workers’ benefits while privatizing cash handling, spare parts warehouses, customer service jobs, and now three of the system’s bus maintenance yards. In December 2016 the FMCB used the threat of privatization to force Boston Carmen’s Union Local 589, the largest MBTA union, into a deal which slashed raises in a contract that wasn’t set to expire for another two years.
A Human Resources Workforce & Strategy update, summarizing the first six months of this year and available on the FMCB’s web site, states that 746 workers have been “separated,” through being either fired or goaded into early retirement agreements. The average yearly salary of these workers is $76,000; the average salary of the 348 new hires during this period is $60,900. The report boasts that 65 workers were fired during the first six months of this year for attendance violations.
However, neither price nor quality is being considered in the hiring of executives, who are euphemistically referred to as “talent.” On August 15 the MBTA announced that Luis Manuel Ramírez, a former Siemens and General Electric executive with no public transportation experience, has been hired as the system’s General Manager.
The MBTA paid Lochlin Partners, a recruiting firm, $93,000 for the hire and will be paying Ramírez more than $300,000 per year plus bonuses.
After his GE career, Ramírez was President and CEO of Global Power Equipment Group from 2012 to 2015. Accounting and audit controls at the company were so bad that in March 2017 it submitted a filing to the SEC admitting that its financial statements from 2011-2015 could “‘not be relied on.’” Its stock value has dropped by nearly 75 percent since then, according to a report aired on radio station WBUR.
On May 6 2015, less than two months after Ramírez left the company, Global Power issued a press release admitting that it had understated the cost of sales in its 2014 financial statements, the effect of which was to inflate the profits shown on its income statement. One week later a class action lawsuit against Global Power was filed by stockholders stating that the company’s financial statements had been “materially false and misleading.” Ramírez had signed off on the 2014 financial statements.
Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, who made the decision without public input, told WBUR that she “‘selected Luis Ramírez based on his long and successful career of transforming and turning around complex organizations.” In other words, she hired a financial con man to accelerate the privatization of the MBTA and clamp down on workers.
After the February 2015 winter crisis, the Massachusetts legislature — both houses of which were controlled by Democrats — passed a measure sought by Governor Baker to exempt the MBTA from an existing law that limited the privatization of government services. The 2015 measure also gave the Transportation Secretary authority to hire a General Manager without the public input that was previously part of the process.
Pollack appointed a five-member “advisory committee” for the selection process, and it included two members of the FMCB. One of them, Monica Tibbits-Nutt, was interviewed by WBUR after the scandal broke.
Claiming that “‘our job was to give the potential candidates a really thorough understanding of what the MBTA needs,’” Tibbits-Nutt told the interviewer that she had only two meetings with Ramírez and the second was “‘just a handshake.’” She defended the hire with the excuse that “‘a lot of litigation happens in the corporate world,’” and admitted that she had been told nothing about the lawsuit, the SEC investigation, or the financial restatements.
This combination of corporate plunder and irrationality is not limited to the hiring of a public transportation General Manager with no public transportation experience. On Tuesday the Boston Globe reported that a contract to CH2M Hill Companies to manage the construction of a 4.7-mile Green Line trolley extension has been canceled because an engineering company it would have managed on the project has bought CH2M Hill.
The MBTA plans to hire another contractor and is claiming that the project schedule will not change, but this development adds to 27 years of delays. The construction, which would extend trolley service from Lechmere station in Cambridge to Somerville and Medford, was first approved by the state legislature in 1990.
The project was almost cancelled at the end of 2015 because cost estimates had increased by more than $1 billion. An Interim Project Management Team was appointed and released its final report in May 2016, stating that not enough MBTA staff were working on the project to handle “the dozens of consultants,” and “too much autonomy and authority was ceded to consultants who took full advantage by charging too much.”
Money also would have been siphoned off by bond investors after then-Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat, signed a law authorizing the issuance of $1.3 billion worth of capital bonds.
A cheaper construction plan was then devised which would eliminate escalators and toilets and reduce shelter at stops to open-air roofs over the platforms. The Medford Street and School Street bridges in Somerville, which would have been replaced to provide a better right-of-way, will instead have tunnels dug under their abutments.
The Democratic Party has enabled these schemes while working with the unions to contain workers’ anger. US Senator Edward Markey spoke at an August 11 picket at the Lynn bus maintenance facility, one of the three facing privatization.
However, all sides agree that the maintenance jobs must be “saved” at the expense of the workers. Indeed, the mechanics union has offered some $29 million in concessions in ongoing contract talks. The unions main concern is not workers jobs and benefits, but their right to continue the collection of dues payments.

Tags: Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)privatizationcorruptiontransit workers
Categories: Labor News

Japan Rail And Militant Unions Call For Rally On Nov 5 In Tokyo

Current News - Sun, 09/03/2017 - 14:15

Revive Militant Labor Unions! Victory for the Struggle of National Railways!
10 Thousand Workers’ Grand March against War, Privatization and Dismantling of Labor Laws

Call for endorsement to, and participation in,
November 5 National Workers’ All-Out Rally /
Stop Constitutional Revision! 10 Thousand Workers’ Grand March

Solidarity Union of Japan Construction and Transport Workers Kansai Area Branch (Kan-Nama)
Metal and Machinery Workers’ Union in Osaka (Minato-Godo)
National Railway Motive Power Union of Chiba (Doro-Chiba)
Nationwide Movement against the Division and Privatization of National Railways and for the Withdrawal of the Dismissal of 1047 National Railway Workers (Nationwide Movement of National Railway Struggle)

It was 1998 when we, the three unions—Kan-Nama, Minato-Godo and Doro-Chiba—started holding the November National Workers All-out Rally with a call for establishing a nationwide network of militant labor unions. Though we were well aware at that moment that our endeavor was too reckless as a small stream, we boldly dared to issue an appeal to workers all over the country. And now this autumn we are going to hold the 20th November rally. We would like to express our greatest thanks for the efforts of all the organizers, participants and supporters toward the realization of our ideals. And again we appeal to you. The time has come for us to rise up with firm determination. After 20 years of strenuous efforts to revive labor movement, the time is coming to closely associate our efforts with a furious voice of people now filled in our society.
The brake on war drive is going to be released. The crisis of war over Korean Peninsula and East Asia is imminent. Abe government forcibly enacted recently security-related laws1) (war laws) and conspiracy law2), and in line with that, declared to have a new Constitution enacted in 2020. A string of recent suspicious political issues—Moritomo Gakuen3) &Kake Gakuen4) Scandals and Defense Ministry’s disclosure of daily report issue5) have exposed evil and corruption prevail in Abe’s inner circle. Although being on the verge of a crisis, Abe does not change his policy to submit a draft of revised Constitution of Liberal Democratic Party to an extraordinary Diet session scheduled for this fall. “Stop war” has been a consistent and biggest agenda for Japan’s postwar labor movement. We shall never let war start again. It is high time to go back to the starting point and unite every angry voice of working class people.
1. Security related laws: the laws allow Japan to fight overseas in the name of “right to collective self-defense” for the first time after WWII under the war-renouncing Constitution.
2. Conspiracy Law: the law allows authorities to criminalize planning and preparations to commit crime.
3. Moritomo Gakuen Scandal: a private educational firm with a nationalist bent, secured a huge and suspicious discount on state-owned land at a seventh of its listed price for a new elementary school. Shinzo Abe, his wife Akie and prominent politicians support its conservative education ethos.
4. Kake Gakuen Scandal; Kake Gakuen won approval from the central government to open a new veterinary department of its Okayama University of Science in a special strategic zone. It is suspected that the government might have chosen Kake Gakuen for the deregulation project because of Abe’s close friendship with Kake.
5. Defense Ministry’s daily report issue: The allegations of a cover-up involving logs that recorded the daily activities of troops serving as UN peacekeepers in South Sudan and the then Defense Minister Tomomi Inada’s alleged involvement. The logs described particularly tense situations in the fledgling African country and their disclosure last year could have adversely affected the government's push to continue the troop deployment and assign new, and possibly riskier, security responsibilities during the UN mission.
Abe government is attempting to deliver a death blow to the postwar labor laws by establishing so-called “Work Style Reform.” The core intent of this reform is to abolish regulation on dismissal and create a society where there are no regular job workers (total casualization of workers). “Zero Overtime Pay Bill” will be submitted to an extraordinary Diet session this fall. The conversion of fixed-term employment to permanent employment begins from April next year. This really is a brutal attack on 4.5 million targeted workers that force them into a “regular employee in name only” who will be paid at about the same level as minimum wages. Employment system is now going to be destroyed fundamentally. The government is promoting to privatize all public services and works, dismantle social security system and abandon rural areas. A total breakdown of society is now beginning.
Some executives of Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) are showing their readiness to accept the Zero Overtime Pay Bill at the meeting with Prime Minister Abe. But a large number of labor unions and workers affiliated to Rengo opposed it and protested calling for the federation to withdraw the acceptance of the government’s request immediately. Although the Abe government attempted to create its power base within Rengo to publicly support its policy of Constitutional revision that can legally wage war and dismantling of the labor law, it has failed for the time being because it was too coercive. In the prewar period, the government abolished independent labor unions and organized all industrial workers into company-by-company political cells called Industrial Patriotic Associations (Sangyo Houkokukai) in 1940. In postwar period, in 1946, the Japanese Congress of Industrial Organizations (Sanbetu Kaigi) was formed but disbanded during the Korean War in 1950. Instead, the General Council of Japanese Trade Unions (Sohyo) was established. The division and Privatization of Japan National Railways (JNR) in 1987 resulted in breaking-up of the Sohyo and was replaced by the Rengo. The forth transformation of national federation of labor unions is now going to start in Japan. This shows that the time has come to discuss about how we transform and reorganize our labor movement.
The 30-year struggle against the division and privatization of JNR has been actually the biggest showdown over union busting in post-war Japan. At the same time, it has played a decisive role in stopping the revision of the Japanese Constitution. From the onset, the underlying intention of the division and privatization of JNR has been the “laying the foundations for enshrining a strong Constitution through the privatization and division of the JNR, that would bring about destruction of the National Railway Workers’ Union”. It was openly declared by the then Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone.
Now, under the banner of “Withdraw the dismissal of 1,047 National Railway Workers! Smash the outsourcing, personnel transfer and irregular employment!” we are determined to launch fierce counter-offensive.
The November Rally has been developed into international solidarity struggle against war and neoliberalism since 2003 by demanding an end to the Iraq war. Last year, we successfully started to organize this rally as part of the epoch-making “International Joint Action in November in Tokyo and Seoul” with a call for all over the world. This year, the November Rally will be held by welcoming Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and many foreign union representatives.
We have decided with a fresh determination for a significant leap forward, to carry out the 20th anniversary of the rally on November 5th with a new scheme in two steps:
From noon to 2pm: National Workers All-out Rally against war, privatization and dismantling of the labor law
From 2pm: People’s All-out Rally against constitutional revision and Ten Thousand People’s March in Ginza, downtown Tokyo
We would like to step into a new phase of revitalizing labor movement. Let’s stop the revision of the Japanese Constitution and war! Let’s crush neoliberalism! We sincerely ask your endorsement to and participation in November 5 National Workers All-out Rally and Ten Thousand People’s Grand March”.

Name of the event: November 5th National Workers All-out Rally for victory of national railway workers’ struggle and revival of militant labor unions.
Ten Thousand People’s Grand March (International Joint Action in Tokyo and Seoul) against war, privatization and dismantling of labor law
Date: Sunday, November 5, 2017
Time: 12:00 noon
Venue: Hibiya Open-air Music Hall, Tokyo
Contact: Doro-Chiba@doro-chiba.org

Tags: Doro-ChibaMetal and Machinery Workers’ Union in Osaka (Minato-Godo)Solidarity Union of Japan Construction and Transport Workers Kansai Area Branch (Kan-Nama)Warimperialism
Categories: Labor News

Iran: Imprisoned Union Activist on Hunger Strike Needs Hospital Treatment, Wife Says

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 09/02/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: CHRI
Categories: Labor News

USA: The corporate war against unions

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 09/02/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: CNN
Categories: Labor News

The US celebrates Labor Day because of a bloody railroad clash over 100 years ago that left 30 people dead and cost $80 million in damages

Current News - Sat, 09/02/2017 - 16:55

The US celebrates Labor Day because of a bloody railroad clash over 100 years ago that left 30 people dead and cost $80 million in damages
http://www.businessinsider.com/labor-day-history-2017-8?r=UK&IR=T

Áine Cain
12h 6,272

Fighting in Chicago spiraled out of control and cost 30 people their lives. Wikimedia Commons

• Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894, after the Pullman strike.

• The bloody strike led to 30 deaths and millions of dollars in damage.

• The strike prompted Congress and US President Grover Cleveland to establish the holiday.

Labor Day tends to be a pretty low-key US holiday.

Workers across the country typically receive a Monday off to enjoy the unofficial end of summer and shop the sales.

But the history behind the day is far more dramatic and charged than this modern day observance suggests. US President Grover Cleveland signed the holiday into law just days after federal troops brought down the bloody Pullman strike in 1894.

Indiana state professor and labor historian Richard Schneirov, who edited "The Pullman Strike and the Crisis of the 1890s," told Business Insider that this particular strike proved to be a sort of "culmination" of the fraught debate over labor, capital, and unions in the 19th century.

The setting for the strike was the company town of Pullman, Chicago. The Pullman Company hawked an aspirational product: luxury rail cars.

A contemporary drawing depicts strikers clashing with troops.Wikimedia Commons

Engineer and industrialist George Pullman's workers all lived in company-owned buildings. The town was highly stratified. Pullman himself lived in a mansion, managers resided in houses, skilled workers lived in small apartments, and laborers stayed in barracks-style dormitories. The housing conditions were cramped by modern standards, but the town was sanitary and safe, and even included paved streets and stores.

Then the disastrous economic depression of the 1890s struck. Pullman made a decision to cut costs — by lowering wages.

In a sense, workers throughout Chicago, and the country at large, were in the same boat as the Pullman employees. Wages dropped across the board, and prices fell. However, after cutting pay by nearly 30%, Pullman refused to lower the rent on the company-owned buildings and the prices in the company-owned stores accordingly.

Schneirov said it became more and more difficult for the Pullman workers to support their families.

Sympathy for the Pullman workers' plight spread throughout the city — even the Chicago police took up collections for those affected.

The workers ultimately launched a strike on May 11, 1894, receiving support from the American Railway Union.

Immediately, different groups stepped in to intervene, including The Chicago Civic Foundations and the US Conference of Mayors.

But Pullman was unmoved. He refused to even meet with the strikers.

"He just wouldn't talk," Schneirov said. "He refused. Until the age of Reagan, this is the last great situation where a leading capitalist could get away with that."

Pullman's stance earned him widespread rebuke. Fellow business mogul and Republican politician Mark Hanna called him a "damn fool" for refusing to "talk with his men." Chicago mayor John Hopkins loathed Pullman, having previously owned a business in the rail car magnate's Arcade Building. As a result, the local police did little to quell the growing unrest.

The tension then escalated when Eugene Debs, president of the nationwide American Railroad Union (ARU), declared that ARU members would no longer work on trains that included Pullman cars. The move would be widely criticized by other labor groups and the press, and the boycott would end up bringing the railroads west of Chicago to a standstill. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, 125,000 workers across 29 railroad companies quit their jobs rather than break the boycott.

Eugene Debs was widely criticized for disrupting train traffic.Wikimedia Commons

When the railroad companies hired strikebreakers as replacements, strikers also took action.

Schneirov said it was common for working class communities to come together to support striking workers.

"When they began running the trains, crowds of railroad workers would form to try to stop them from running," Schneirov said. "There was a lot of sympathy from people. They'd come out and try to help the railroad workers stop the trains. They might even be initiators of standing in front of the tracks and chucking pieces of coal and rocks and pieces of wood. Then there would be lots of kids, lots of teenagers, out of work or just hanging around and looking to join in for the fun."

Things escalated from there.

The General Managers Association, a group which represented 26 Chicago railroad companies, began to plan a counterattack. It asked attorney general Richard Olney, a former railroad attorney, to intervene. Indianapolis federal courts granted him an injunction against the strike, on the grounds that law and order had broken down in Chicago.

Pro-labor Illinois governor John Peter Altgeld refused to authorize President Cleveland to send in federal troops, asserting that allegations of societal breakdown had been grossly exaggerated. But the federal government ultimately sent in soldiers to enforce the injunction. Meanwhile, the General Managers Association was able to deputize federal marshals to help put down the strike.

"The whole thing is the most one-sided, biased action on the part of the federal government in a labor dispute that you could think of," Schneirov said.

Violence raged as Chicago swelled with soldiers and strikers clashed with troops on railroads across the west. Federal forces went city by city to break the strikes and get the trains running again. In the end, 30 people died in the chaos. The riots and sabotage caused by the strike ultimately cost $80 million in damages.

Schneirov said Cleveland's decision to declare Labor Day as a holiday for workers was likely a move meant to please his constituents after the controversial handling of the strike. The president was a Democrat, and most urban laborers at the time were Catholic Democrats.

"It's also part of the growing legitimacy of labor unions in the country," he said. "Unions were becoming very popular with working people. Even if they couldn't join a union, the idea of the union was popular."

Labor Day wasn't the only product of the strike. Debs was arrested and jailed for six months. The ARU, one of the biggest unions of its time, fell apart. Pullman died of a heart attack three years after the riots. Investigations were launched over the incident and found that Pullman was partly to blame for what happened. These reports helped to warm public opinion to the idea of unions.

However, Schneirov said the positive view of unions the Pullman strike ultimately brought about has faded in recent years.

"This idea that free competition and the self-regulating market are sufficient, and that working people shouldn't have the right to combine and form unions, this idea has become dominant again since the 1980s," Schneirov said. "But most people would still join a union if it wasn't so damn hard."

Tags: Pullman StrikeRailroad workers
Categories: Labor News

Tokyo Metro plans safety gates for all stations by FY25-BART and Other Transit Systems Have No Plans To Protect Passengers Who Fall Or Are Pushed Onto Tracks

Current News - Sat, 09/02/2017 - 12:37

Tokyo Metro plans safety gates for all stations by FY25-BART and Other Transit Systems Have No Plans To Protect Passengers Who Fall Or Are Pushed Onto Tracks
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201709020003.html
Tokyo Metro plans safety gates for all stations by FY25
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
September 2, 2017 at 07:10 JST

A safety gate installed at Kanamecho Station on Tokyo Metro Co.'s Yurakucho Line (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Tokyo Metro Co. is spending 60.2 billion yen ($547 million) to have safety gates installed on the platforms of its 179 subway stations by fiscal 2025 to prevent people from falling on the tracks.

Platform screen doors were set up at 82, or 46 percent, of the stations by April this year, according to Tokyo Metro officials.

The subway operator plans to introduce the safety features at an additional 50 or more stations before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics to increase the ratio to 77 percent.

It also intends to install the platform doors at all stations used by 100,000 or more passengers daily by fiscal 2024.

The 60.2 billion yen includes investments already made since April 2016.

For the Chiyoda Line, the screen doors will be introduced by fiscal 2019, a year earlier than initially planned.

Installation will be complete for the Ginza Line by the first half of fiscal 2018, for the Hibiya Line by fiscal 2022, for the Tozai Line by fiscal 2025, and for the Hanzomon Line by fiscal 2023.

Platform doors have already been set up at all stations of the Marunouchi, Yurakucho, Nanboku and Fukutoshin lines.

Tags: Transit SafetySafety Gates In TokyoPlatform safety
Categories: Labor News

France: To reduce union influence Macron Gvt launches overhaul of France's labour laws

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 08/31/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Guardian
Categories: Labor News

South Africa: Cosatu to embark on nationwide strike over govt corruption

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 08/31/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Eyewitness News
Categories: Labor News

UK: How striking McDonald’s workers could slay the fast food gian

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 08/31/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Conversation
Categories: Labor News

USA: Rightwing alliance plots assault to 'defund and defang' America's unions

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 08/31/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Guardian
Categories: Labor News

Georgia: Violence and Lack of Respect for Social Dialogue

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 08/30/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

USA: VIDEO:Bernie Sanders joins Fight for $15

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 08/30/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Fight for 15
Categories: Labor News

Metro-North top union leaders back rail strike vote

Current News - Wed, 08/30/2017 - 13:32

Metro-North top union leaders back rail strike vote
http://www.lohud.com/story/news/transit/2017/08/29/metro-north-union-lea...

Thomas C. Zambito, tzambito@lohud.comPublished 2:44 p.m. ET Aug. 29, 2017 | Updated 4:30 p.m. ET Aug. 29, 2017
The executive board of Metro-North’s largest union today agreed to ask its 2,400 members to authorize a rail strike that could impact the daily commute of tens of thousands of commuters from the Lower Hudson Valley and beyond.

The 5-0 vote by the general chairmen of the Association of Commuter Rail Employees was a clear-cut indication that the union’s leadership has gotten behind executive director James Fahey’s call for a rail strike, something that has not happened on Metro-North in 30 years.

Fahey made the motion to send the vote to members at a meeting today in Manhattan.

“I am one hundred percent happy that everyone wants to stand by and fight for their members,” Fahey said. “We’ll fight for the welfare and the safety of our members. I’m ecstatic that every general chairman voted on my motion.”

There is no timetable for a strike vote or any projected strike date.

STRIKE: Metro-North union boss asking members to back rail strike over contract disputes

CONDUCTOR: Union defends conductor accused of assaulting MTA officers

CRASH: Paralyzed Metro-North worker losing salary as legal case continues

Each voting member of the executive board represents a different segment of Metro-North’s workforce, among them engineers, conductors, rail traffic controllers, signalmen and yard masters.

ACRE is one of a dozen unions representing Metro-North workers and it is unclear whether other unions would support the strike call.

Metro-North officials were dismayed by Fahey's efforts to air contractual issues in public.

“We don’t negotiate labor contracts in the press," spokesman Aaron Donovan said. "We expect any outstanding issues will be resolved. Let’s be clear: threatening an unlawful strike is completely irresponsible and is an insult to hundreds of thousands of Metro-North customers.”

The vote comes while ACRE is working under a contract signed in 2015 that was up for renewal nine months ago. Fahey said there have been no substantive discussions on a new contract.

At issue are a number of grievances that ACRE claims Metro-North has refused to address over the past year.

Topping the list are lengthy delays in the processing of disability pensions for members who’ve been medically disqualified for work. Fahey says the delay has forced the union to enlist doctors and dentists to provide free health care for members who’ve lost insurance benefits.And, the union claims, Metro-North has violated its agreement by hiring locomotive engineers from the outside instead of giving first preference to existing Metro-North workers.

Letters outlining the executive board’s concerns will likely go out to Metro-North members next week, a process that will be handled by an independent agency, the American Arbitration Association.

ACRE’s designated chief counsel, Jeffrey Chartier, will help the union decide which issues are major contractual disputes and which are minor, Fahey said.

Under the terms of the federal Railway Labor Act, railroad employees can only strike to remedy “major” contractual issues.

300,000 could be affected

A strike by key members of Metro-North's workforce could disrupt the daily commute for the nearly 300,000 customers who ride the commuter rail each weekday from points as distant as New Haven, Connecticut, into Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal.

The head of a Metro-North commuter group says the strike-talk is little more than a negotiating tool for the union.

"I do not think commuters should be alarmed by this 'sabre-rattling' by the unions," said James Cameron, the founder of Commuter Action Group. "I have every confidence that the railroad and unions will negotiate a new contract, as they have done for decades. Nobody wants a strike, certainly not commuters, and neither the railroad workers who are paid handsomely for their labors. A strike would be illegal and hurt the strikers as much, if not more, than commuters."

The last strike on Metro-North was in 1983, soon after the commuter rail took over from Conrail. Metro-North’s 622 conductors and train men struck over who would decide the size of train crews – management or workers, according to a report in United Press International. That strike lasted 42 days, disrupting the commute of some 90,000 customers who were forced to take cars and busses into the city.

Last year, Metro-North set a record for ridership with 86.5 million customers, more than doubling the total from 1983. It is the nation's second busiest commuter rail behind the Long Island Rail Road.

In recent years, Metro-North has been dogged by a series of derailments and mishaps that claimed the lives of customers and rail workers.

In December 2013, a speeding train derailed along a curve near the Spuyten-Duyvil section of the Bronx when an engineer fell asleep at the controls. Four passengers were killed and dozens of passengers were seriously injured.

Twitter: @TomZambito

Tags: Metro-North Rail WorkersAssociation of Commuter Rail EmployeesFederal Railway Labor Act
Categories: Labor News

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