The Coast Longshore Division Caucus convened from April 18-22 in Panama City, Panama. This historic meeting was the first Longshore Caucus to meet outside of the United States or Canada. More than 100 caucus delegates, fraternal delegates, and pensioners attended the Caucus.
“The Panama Canal Division is an important part of the ILWU family. We are here to show our support for the workers in this new division,” said ILWU International President Robert McEllrath.
The Panama Canal Division was formed by a unanimous motion at the 2012 ILWU Convention. Discussions about the possible affiliation began in 2002 when International Vice President Ray Familathe explored the issue. In 2010, President McEllrath and Vice President Familathe began talking about formal affiliation with Londor Rankin, General-Secretary of the Panama Canal Pilots Union.
Today, the Panama Canal Division includes 250 members of the Panama Canal Pilots and 2,580 dock workers from SINTRAPORSPA, the Union of Dockworkers in the Ports of Balboa and Cristobal.
On the first day of the Caucus, General-Secretary Rankin of the Panama Canal Division welcomed the delegates to Panama. Rankin introduced the vocal group “The Three Divas” who sang acapella versions of the Panamanian and American national anthems.
“We gather here to strengthen the strategic alliance between our unions and to send a loud and clear message to our counterparts that we continue to be united and grow stronger regardless of our nationality,” said Rankin. “We know we are not alone in the struggle to improve the wages and conditions for all of our members. We are proud to be among you, and we are honored that you have chosen Panama as the place for your Caucus.”
Several Panamanian media outlets published articles about the historical significance of the ILWU Coast Longshore Division’s first Caucus in Panama. The publication, Panama On reported in Spanish, and the translation is: “This meeting, which is the first to take place in Panama, aims to reaffirm the existing strategic alliance between these two unions, which is mainly based on the noble principle of international solidarity, which has come in handy in the struggles of workers around the world, in this case, in the maritime port sector.”
Later that night, the Panama Canal Pilots hosted a dinner for the delegates at their union hall, where caucus delegates had an opportunity to meet with members of the Panama Canal Division. Later in the week, the Panama Canal Pilots hosted a dinner at the Miraflores Locks, demonstrating the 103-yearold lock operations viewable from an outdoor deck reserved for ILWU Coast Longshore Division guests.
The Caucus was dedicated in the memory of a number of individuals who have recently passed including Ralph Rooker (Local 10-retired), Hugh Hunter (Local 13-retired), Jesus Puga (Local 13-retired), Gordon Neely (Local 19), Robert Stevens (Local 19), Dale Martinis (Local 19), Jarrett Van Curen (Local 19), Richard Cavalli (Local 34-retired), Emile Lewis (Local 34), Donja Grant (Local 34), Jim Crest (Local 40-retired), Bill Hallet (Local 63), Anthony Harris, Jr. (Local 63), Domenick Miretti (Local 63-retired), John Vlaic (Local 94-retired), William Kendall (Local 98), and Oliver Pickford (Local 98-retired).
Safety, technology, training, and political action
The Caucus dealt with a range of issues facing the industry and union members, including the impact of megaships on port congestion and port infrastructure, automation, registration, safety, training, contract administration and jurisdiction. As election season heats up for the US presidential and congressional races, political action was also a high priority for the Caucus. A resolution was passed to motivate members to contribute to the ILWU’s Political Action
Fund, and money was allocated for the 2016 Political Action Program. PMA’s contract extension request In March 2016, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) sent President McEllrath a request to discuss an extension of the 2014-2019 Longshore Contract. President McEllrath submitted this request to the ILWU Coast Longshore Division Caucus and the issue was discussed. In keeping with the ILWU Coast Longshore Division’s democratic process, the Caucus has submitted the matter to the membership for review and input before taking any official action.
ILWU send off
The Caucus honored ILWU Canada President Mark Gordienko, who is retiring at the end of his current term. The Caucus also paid tribute to Southern California Coast Director and ADRP Representative Jackie Cummings, who is also retiring.
SINTRAPORSPA members visit
Alberto Ochoa, Secretary General of SINTRAPORSPA, which represents more than 2,580 longshore workers in the Port of Balboa in Panama and is affiliated with the Panama Canal Division, spoke at the Caucus. “We are grateful to you because you played a key role in the organization of SINTRAPORSPA,” Ochoa said.
In keeping with the tradition of warm Latin American greetings, Ochoa said he brought a “fraternal hug” for all in attendance and said, “We are honored that you chose to have this meeting in Panama.”
Belgian public sector goes on strike in run-up to French rail walkout
By Ross Mitchell and Alex Lantier
1 June 2016
Public sector workers in Belgium organised in a 24-hour national strike Tuesday, as French rail workers began indefinite strike action yesterday evening. Workers are mobilising across national borders in Europe against the reactionary austerity policies that the entire European Union (EU) has imposed on workers since the 2008 financial crisis.
While French workers are mobilising in struggle against the Socialist Party’s (PS) regressive labour law, the right-wing government of Belgian prime minister Charles Michel intends to impose welfare cuts and budget cuts in public service and education as well as to raise the pension age. The Belgian government’s aim is to make it easier for employers to hire part-time workers on short-term, part-time contracts with less security. Its proposed laws introduce a 45-hour workweek and impose overtime without extra pay.
The Belgian strike was called by several trade unions, including the General Confederation for Public Services (CGSP); it coincided with a train drivers stoppage that entering its sixth day. Belgian train drivers are opposing cuts in overtime pay.
The whole Belgian public sector was heavily disrupted due to strike action taken by workers in the health sector, public transport, postal services, fire service, education and other areas. Operations of the state-run SNCB (National Railway Company of Belgium) were paralysed in the Francophone areas, while in Flanders only 50 percent of trains were servicing their lines. Some services to Paris and German cities were delayed or cancelled.
Mainline trains and buses in Brussels and the French-speaking region of Wallonia were paralysed. In the capital, Brussels, metro lines, trams and buses were affected for the second time in a week, while rubbish went uncollected.
In other towns and cities, metro and tram networks were also halted. In Charleroi, a city with a long history of working class struggle dating back more than a century and a half, workers voted not to allow trains, buses or trams to run.
At 9 a.m., striking workers gathered to demonstrate in Brussels, after a protest of at least 60,000 people in that city on May 24. The Confederation of Christian Trade Unions claimed 12,000 marched in Brussels. A self-made banner floating along the marching crowds in Brussels read, “No more of our sacrifices for your privileges.” Others read, “Fighting for our rights.”
Other marches took place nationwide with 1,000 protesting in Ghent, 350 in Namur, 400 in Wavre and 1,500 in Mons. Wavre is the location of Prime Minister Michel’s residence. During the strike, it was protected by a heavy security and police cordon.
On Monday, three Flemish unions and one Francophone union reached agreement with Belgium’s justice minister, Koen Geens, in an attempt to end a five-week strike of prison officers. Geens pledged Monday to hire more prison officers, after which the unions ended their participation in the strike. Two other unions are yet to settle.
Commenting on the duration of the rail strike, the Le Soir newspaper commented, “This is unseen since the last general strike of 1986.”
While the ruling elite is deeply concerned at the escalating militancy in the working class internationally, and in particular in both Belgium and France, it is also well aware that the trade union bureaucracy is an ally against the workers.
The Belgian trade unions called on their members sector by sector to participate in the strike. They did not issue a call to mobilise workers across the whole public sector. Teachers were allowed to strike, but the Belgian teachers union did not mobilise its members. Trade unions in the airport industry did not call on their members to join the general strike, though workers joined the movement on an individual basis without affecting business operations. Airports in Brussels and in the country were not affected by the strike.
Le Soir cited the comments of journalist Bernard Demonty, who stated, “Not a single trade union movement made any government step down from power” in Belgian history. The article continues, “To make the government fall [Demonty says], one needs a general strike to the end. This cannot be so, for the trade unions are divided and not determined for it.”
In France, rail workers will be joined by airline workers and pilots on strike in the coming days. At the same time, six of the country’s eight oil refineries remain on strike, with 20 percent of French gas stations running out of gas. Refuse workers have launched strikes and blockades of facilities in Paris and St. Etienne.
Pilots from France’s National Union of Airline Pilots (SNPL) voted for long-term strike action on Monday, as they face a substantial pay cut after the SNPL sold out their strike at the end of 2014.
French officials tried to minimise the scope of the strike, with Transport Minister Alain Vidalies declaring, “Of course the movement will be serious, but it won’t have the scope one might expect.” Nonetheless, the rail strike clearly will have a significant impact, shutting down most lines on Paris’s express regional transit system as well as many long-distance high-speed trains and intercity trains.
Large sections of the French trade union bureaucracy are hostile to the strike. The pro-Socialist Party (PS) French Democratic Labour Confederation (CFDT) cancelled its strike call yesterday, on the pretext that the François Hollande government had made concessions.
In the meantime, ruling circles in France are trying to whip up hysteria and public anger against the strikers. The most virulent comments came from Pierre Gattaz (CEO of Radiall), the leader of the Movement of French Enterprises (Medef), the largest employer federation, who denounced strikers as “terrorists.”
Gattaz said, “Making people respect the rule of law means ensuring that minorities that behave like hoodlums, like terrorists, will not blockade the entire country. ... When the [General Confederation of Labour, CGT] prevents newspapers from appearing because they refused to publish [CGT General Secretary Philippe] Martinez’s tract, it seems to me we are in a Stalinist dictatorship.”
Scabs Wearing Badges: Police help Lisbon port move cargo amid dock workers’ strike
ASSOCIATED PRESS ON MAY 24, 2016 IN PORTUGUESE WORLD
LUSA photo. Riot police guard the entrance of the port of Lisbon in Alcântara and hold back striking dock workers while port operators remove ship containers stranded for several weeks by the walkout over pay and labor rights.
LISBON, Portugal (AP) – Riot police have held back striking Lisbon dock workers while port operators remove ship containers stranded for several weeks by the walkout over pay and labor rights.
Dozens of striking stevedores gathered outside gates at Lisbon’s port Tuesdayand shouted at what they said were strike-breakers helping to load the containers on trucks.
The dock workers and shipping companies operating at the port failed to break the deadlock in their latest talks on Friday, and seven companies said would begin lay-offs to compensate for lost income. The companies say they have lost around 10 million euros ($11 million) so far due to the strike.
The Stevedores’ Union is demanding greater job security and automatic promotions every three years, as well as higher pay. Union leaders said the strike would continue.
By Benjamin Charles - Baltimore IWW, May 26, 2016
FREDERICK, MD-- Workers at True Technical Experts LLC (TTX), an IT subcontractor for major retailers, have gone on strike today demanding an end to wage theft and harassment, and demanding recognition of their union, the Industrial Workers of the World. The workers have submitted a list of demands, which includes raising wages to the industry standard, regular hours, and an anti-harassment pledge from the business’s owner, David Gerlak. IWW workers at TTX have struck twice in the past two months over unpaid wages, winning their back pay both times, although Gerlak has refused to recognize the union. Minutes after being contacted by an IWW representative, Gerlak declared that he had fired two striking employees, in obvious violation of federal labor law.
TTX is a small IT subcontractor whose workers install cabling and other hardware for some of the nation’s largest retailers, such as Target and CVS. As is often the case, their work is handled by a complex chain of contractors and subcontractors, producing a “race to the bottom” where wage theft and poor working conditions are common. For over a year, workers at TTX have organized underground for job stability, respect at work, and an end to substandard wages and conditions.
“We’re tired of being treated like machines,” said TTX field technician Andrew K. “If David won’t treat us like human beings, with basic respect and dignity, we’ll just have to force him to. We are prepared to stay out on strike for as long as it takes.”
This is not the first time these major retailers have had labor issues with their subcontractors. Following years of protests and strikes by a Minneapolis-based workers’ center representing janitorial workers, Target agreed to language stipulating that “cleaning companies it works with cannot interfere with workers’ organizing rights, must follow wage-and-hour laws and must establish worker safety committees.” While no such language currently exists for their IT subcontractors, TTX workers are confident that, with a little encouragement, Target will soon extend its ideals to them as well.
Gerlak has made repeated threats to fire two workers who are members of the IWW, and even threatened to shut down the business in retaliation for union activity. The Baltimore IWW is filing Unfair Labor Practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board against TTX for these blatantly illegal threats.
The workers are asking supporters to stand in solidarity by donating to their strike fund. Donations can be made at https://www.crowdrise.com/support-trutech-workers-organizing
In South Africa GroundUp: Uber and Out in Cape Town
• 27 MAY 2016 12:21 (SOUTH AFRICA)
“Make good money. Drive when you want. No office, no boss.” This is Uber’s enticing pitch to new drivers, but the reality can be very different. GROUNDUP's KIMON DE GREEF talks to over-worked, over-tired and under-paid Uber drivers in Cape Town.
First published by GroundUp
The BP garage parking lot at Cape Town International Airport has space for more than 60 cars. It is full from before dawn until midnight all weekend, but not with customers. Motorists seldom need to queue for the station’s ten petrol pumps. The Express convenience store, with its bright-lit Wild Bean Café counter, rarely has more than five clients inside at a time.
Out in the lot, tucked against the scrubby verge, drivers lean against their vehicles — polished Toyota Corollas, Hyundai Accents, Honda Accords — or rest with their doors open and seats reclined. When it rains they shut the doors and their windows mist up. A BP security guard with a badge and clipboard paces the tarmac, monitoring how long each driver has been parked. Until the guard tells them to move, or until their smartphones chime like slot machines, or until the late flights arrive and the airport empties, the drivers do not leave.
On a recent Sunday morning, Arthur*, a 29 year-old immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), sat at a table inside the store, eating fries drenched in mayonnaise. His eyes were bloodshot after less than two hours sleep, and less than two hours the night before — the naps he’d snatched between trips, hunched up in his rented vehicle, amounted to perhaps three additional hours each day. His phone, lying face-up on the table beside him, displayed a map of the airport with a countdown clock. The waiting time until his next ride, it indicated, was “60+” minutes.
“We have no choice,” he said, watching the screen. “We have to sit here and wait. We have to work these crazy hours to bring in enough money.”
An Uber driver like the rest of the men in the parking lot, Arthur had woken at 3am that Friday and arrived at the airport an hour later, his usual strategy on weekends. Squeezed by lower rates and sluggish off-season demand, Cape Town drivers target the airport because it practically guarantees long rides back to the city. Shortly before midnight, after 18 hours online and only four trips — worth less than R600 in total, before deductions — he left the airport and drove to town, where he ferried clients from Long Street, Kloof, and Bree. He arrived home in Mowbray, where he currently lives with his mother and siblings, at 4am; he doesn’t recall what time he woke up.
“When you’re that tired you don’t keep track,” he said. “You just wash, eat, sleep.”
He was back at the airport for another 20-hour shift by 7am on Saturday, remaining online until three the next morning. It was approaching noon when I met him on Sunday; he’d been working for seven hours. He told me he was “feeling fine.”
Records from Arthur’s driver app reveal that he worked a total of almost 95 hours that week, grossing R4,625. From this figure, Uber subtracted its standard 20% cut, equal to R925. Arthur paid R2,500 towards car rental. He estimates his fuel cost him another R1,000. Mobile data, essential for running the app, cost R100. He also paid to have the car washed and vacuumed three times — it is important to keep Uber vehicles spotless to ensure good ratings from clients — at R75 a service.
In all, he spent approximately R125 more than he earned that week, working an average of 13.5 hours for seven consecutive days.
Uber's pitch versus reality
Uber has improved transport options, especially for middle-class and high-earning working class people in the city. Marcus Low has described on GroundUp how much better the service is than metered taxis. But in a country with chronic unemployment and stark income inequality, the service carries hidden costs.
Uber’s website pitches a good deal to prospective drivers. “Earn money on your own terms,” it states. “Full-time and part-time driving jobs for independent contractors in Cape Town give you the flexibility to work as much or as little as you want.”
A sign-up page invites drivers to “Make good money. Drive when you want. No office, no boss.”
But while some Uber drivers in Cape Town have had positive experiences with the app, which launched nationally in August 2013, the majority do not come close to achieving the company’s advertised lifestyle and income targets, GroundUp can report, after more than 30 interviews with drivers — especially since Uber South Africa (SA) unilaterally dropped its per-kilometre rate from R7 to R6 in April this year.
In South Africa, unlike many countries worldwide, most Uber drivers work for ‘partners’, or investors able to finance new cars. Some Cape Town partner firms own and operate fleets of more than 50 vehicles each. Splitting their earnings with their ‘employers’ — a contested term when it comes to Uber, but applied here to partners — these drivers often earn considerably less than R1,000 a week, working long hours of overtime.
“The system isn’t working for us,” said Karabo*, a young South African driver. “It’s good for the company and for clients. It makes sense for partners with money. If you invest in a car it will keep generating income. You’ll have a nice balance sheet, and be able to apply for bigger loans. But with current prices and demand many drivers are struggling to survive.”
Uber SA spokesperson Samantha Allenberg could not confirm how many drivers were currently using the app in Cape Town, nor what percentage of these drivers were working for partners.
“Driver-partners are self-employed and as such have the flexibility to work when they choose,” she said.
Allenberg said that Uber had “enabled over 4,000 economic opportunities” in South Africa. Uber currently offers services in Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, and Johannesburg/Pretoria. Drivers interviewed for this article estimated that there were currently between 2,000 and 3,500 cars operating in the Cape Town area, which includes Bloubergstrand, Paarl, Franschoek, Stellenbosch, and Somerset West.
Drivers not united
Though dissatisfaction is widespread, not all drivers are unhappy with their current situation. Waiting for his next client in the BP parking lot, Claude*, a thickset Burundian man resident in South Africa for over a decade, said that he “appreciated the opportunity” Uber offered him.
“Every job has its challenges,” he said, waving away objections from other drivers. “I used to work as a security guard. I worked 12 hours a day, 30 days a month, for R4,000. With Uber I’ve improved my standard of living.”
The company didn’t force him to work long hours, he said. “We’re human; we want to earn more money. That’s why we work so much overtime.”
He added that he slept in the car (a partner’s) every weekend — “Like a cockroach, getting cold; it beats you; you get so tired” — and commonly drove 24-hour shifts to support his wife and eight children.
“But if the price was better you wouldn’t have to drive so much,” argued a Zimbabwean driver listening in on the interview. “You say Uber doesn’t force us to work these hours, but we don’t have any choice. Now you’re working so hard for such little money, not sleeping, and risking the lives of your passengers.”
A WhatsApp group formed by Uber drivers attempting to form a workers’ union includes shared photographs of recent accidents involving Uber drivers. The group currently has more than 200 members. Karabo, the young South African driver, is a member of the group’s steering committee.
“Accidents are much more frequent now due to driver fatigue,” he said.
Responding to written questions, Uber SA’s Samantha Allenberg said that the company “strictly monitored” drivers’ hours and had “robust processes in place” to prevent drivers from working when tired.
These processes include “monitoring working patterns to ensure that a driver doesn't work for too long consecutively, or for excessive hours in a given week,” and “reviewing real-time customer feedback ... that might flag any issues with a driver's driving.”
Allenberg declined to answer whether Uber SA kept a record of accidents involving its drivers, or whether these accidents had increased in Cape Town over the last 12 months.
Uber SA does not recognize any form of collective driver representation, instead dealing with drivers on a one-to-one basis. In keeping with the company’s increasingly criticised international policy, local drivers are classified as subcontractors, not employees. This means they are denied rights to minimum wages, paid overtime, or compensation.
With a “very high” proportion of Uber drivers in Cape Town hailing from other African countries — Zimbabwe, the DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia — a major obstacle to forming a union has been "low education and exposure to worker’s rights", Karabo said.
"Many of these guys have never worked a formal job before,” he said. “They don’t know that they are protected. They’re willing to work for almost nothing. When we talk to them about standing together, or about getting Uber to treat us better, they just say that they need to put food on the table, and that they’d rather keep working.”
The trouble with Cape Town
The BP security guard is stricter during the week, and only allows Uber drivers to park for 15 minutes at a time. He records car registration numbers on his clipboard. If drivers spend money in the shop, he lets them stay longer. But drivers keep congregating at the airport because airport trips typically gross R120 or more — “not these joke trips you get in town,” Karabo said.
“Cape Town is a small city. It isn’t like Joburg, where I come from. Here, you seldom get a ride further than Claremont. You end up using too much petrol. I've tried many strategies, but now I'm just sticking to the airport."
A short distance from the BP garage, wedged between the container yards and warehouses of Airport Industria, more than 80 Uber drivers are gathered in a dusty lot owned by a freight company. Gospel music blares as they polish their cars. A woman sells pap with spinach. The drivers, as per Uber requirements, are neatly dressed.
“Often we wait four hours for a trip here,” says Jonathan*, from Zimbabwe. “At R6 a kilometer we’re lucky to take home R700 in a week.”
He opens the trunk of his car (a partner’s) to show me a blanket and small rucksack. “My change of clothes is in there, and a toothbrush. You must be prepared to sleep on the road.”
“It makes us very angry,” says Kenneth, another Zimbabwean, who was online for 108 hours last week. “Uber doesn’t listen. They’re killing us.”
Samantha Allenberg told GroundUp that price cuts were “designed to help drivers” by boosting demand. She added that Uber would be reviewing its price cuts in coming weeks.
“If cuts don’t pan out the way we expected them to for drivers, we’ll reassess.”
Last week’s announcement that Uber drivers will soon be accepting cash payments for rides — raising fear among drivers that this will cause conflict with the minibus taxi industry — was in part motivated by an underwhelming response to the fare decrease, according to company communication.
“As part of the fare reduction experiment we have seen a huge number of people signing up but unable to take a ride because their cards do not work,” states an email asking drivers to attend compulsory training sessions last week. (Drivers who did not attend were threatened with disconnection from the app.)
Arthur, from the DRC, told GroundUp that most struggling drivers came from “trouble countries like Zimbabwe and Congo” and had no option but to accept Uber’s terms.
“But the worst thing is when customers ask how things are going, or what I think of these price cuts,” he said, setting his fries aside. “Some of them listen, but others tell me that’s how the world works, that if I don’t like Uber I should quit. They tell me people work for much less money in China. Who can you speak to? I’m telling you. Nobody cares.” DM
* Names have been changed to protect drivers’ identities.
Kimon de Greef is a freelance journalist from Cape Town.
Photo: Uber drivers wait at Airport Industria for their next ride. (Photo: Kimon de Greef)Tags: UberSouth Africa
It had been much rumored for weeks that presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders would come to San Pedro. The question was always when?
Random Length News, with our close ties to the ILWU and the local Bernie campaign office, only found out about this event on May 25, the Wednesday before the Friday rally. I was surprised that it was as well organized as it was considering all of the logistics and security needed to put on this event.
Only about 1,800 to 2,000 people but they were solid Bernie supporters — the California Nurses Association, United Teacher Los Angeles, United Steelworkers and, of course, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. All of these unions gave rousing endorsements of Sanders. They also spoke about most of his campaign themes.
When Bobby Olvera Jr., the president of ILWU 13, who was only there as “one of the harbor workers,” asked the crowd what the motto of the ILWU was, the response was overwhelming, “An injury to one is an injury to all.”
And that, Olvera said, “was true for every American worker in the country!”
The spirits were high and the crowd was excited by the time Sanders took to the podium. He spoke about about universal healthcare, free college tuition to public universities and the rigged economy that Wall Street and the too-big-to-fail banks controlled.
With all of the excitement, it was difficult to read what this rally really meant except for who was missing from the political line up: Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilman Joe Buscaino and even Rep. Janice Hahn did not attend even though her district office is but a block away from the Harbor rally site. All three of these have endorsed Hillary Clinton and are pledged super delegates to the convention.
“How will they vote when their district go[es] for Bernie in the primary?” Olvera asked.
The only two candidates attending were Warren Furutani, who is running for the 35th State Senate District and long shot 44th Congressional candidate Marcus Musante, running against Isadore Hall. Hall also was absent from this rally.
Japan Rail Workers Doro-Chiba Statement Opposing US President Barack Obama’ Visit to Hiroshima Action Committee for the 71st Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima on August 6th
Japan Rail Workers Doro-Chiba Statement Opposing US President Barack Obama’ Visit to Hiroshima Action Committee for the 71st Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima on August 6th
Statement Opposing US President Barack Obama’ Visit to Hiroshima
Action Committee for the 71st Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima on August 6th
14-3-705 Noborimachi, Naka ward, Hiroshima City
Telephone/Fax: 082-221-7631 Email: email@example.com
We oppose the planned visit of the US President Barack Obama to Hiroshima on May 27th after Ise-Shima Summit.
The summit is a conference of warmongers and plunderers representing the interest of financial and military big powers of only seven countries called the G7 to discuss how to share and rule the markets and resources and their sphere of influence over the world. The main agenda will be a new Korean war (i.e. nuclear war) to overthrow the North Korean regime. Obama is to play the leading role of this war meeting as the possessor of the world’s largest nuclear military force. On his visit to the city of Hiroshima, Obama will be accompanied by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose Cabinet passed a new law permitting Japan to engage in war and trampled on the peoples’ anti-war voices with the A-bomb victims at the forefront of the struggle. Further, the Abe administration decided in a recent Cabinet meeting that “both the use and the possession of nuclear weapons is constitutional” (April 1, 2016), reversing the previous interpretation of the Constitution that Japan can never participate in war. Abe insists that Obama’s visit will be a major force for the realization of a world free from nuclear weapons. But these words are utterly deceptive.
We must not allow Obama to set foot in the Peace Park with his “nuclear football.”
The United States is the world’s largest nuclear military power and one that is continuing to wage destruction and slaughter by air raids in the Middle East and continues to use Okinawa island to house its base and prepare for a new war: a nuclear war on the Korean peninsula. And Obama is the commander in chief of the United States Armies. How can we call this warmonger “a figure of hope for the elimination of nuclear weapons” or a “messenger of peace”? Moreover, Obama intends to come to Hiroshima with his emergency “nuclear football.” We must never allow his visit to Hiroshima!
Obama and the US government have repeatedly refused to apologize for the atomic bombings on Hiroshima. This declaration means that Obama and his government do not allow any attempt to question the legitimacy of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. By inviting Obama to Hiroshima, Abe himself has tried to deny the responsibility for Japan’s war of aggression just as Obama evades US responsibility for the A-bombs. By denying responsibility for the war, Abe aims to open a way toward a new imperialist war: nuclear war.
What Obama actually said in his Prague speech is the maintenance of the nuclear monopoly and ability to carry out nuclear war by US.
“As long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary… But we go forward with no illusions. Some countries will break the rules. That’s why we need a structure in place that ensures when any nation does, they will face consequences.” This is the crux of Obama‘s Prague speech in April 2009.
In fact, the Obama administration has been maintaining and evolving its nuclear forces. Obama plans to spend $1 trillion (more than 100 trillion yen) to modernize nuclear weapons over 30 years. For this reason, 12 subcritical nuclear tests and new types of nuclear tests were carried out between November 2010 and 2014. In addition, the USA has entirely opposed on many occasions any resolution for banning nuclear weapons. The very person who has strongly supported this outrageous USA policy is Abe, who insists on the need for a nuclear deterrent while advocating Japan as the “only bombed nation” in the world. Abe’s aim is that Japan becomes “a potential nuclear power” by restarting nuclear power plants and developing rocket technology. With the recent Cabinet decision that both the possession and use of nuclear weapons are constitutional, the Abe administration has explicitly revealed its intention for nuclear armament.
“The USA must monopolize nuclear weapons.” “The nation which does not follow the USA’s rules should face consequences.” This logic to justify nuclear monopoly and nuclear war is totally incompatible with the anti-war will of the workers and people, most of all the survivors of the atom bombs, known as the hibakusha.
Obama is preparing a new nuclear war all while he is making deceitful propaganda by talking about “a world without nuclear weapons.”
This January, Obama dispatched the strategic nuclear bomber B52 over the Korean Peninsula to counter North Korea’s nuclear tests with the aim of demonstrating that the US was ready to actually carry out a nuclear war. Then from March through April, he enforced the largest US-ROK joint military exercises ever on the assumption of a nuclear war. On February 24th, USFK (the United States Forces Korea) commander testified at the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee hearing: “If a collision occurs on the Korean Peninsula, the situation becomes the equal to that of the WWII. The scale of troops and weapons involved is comparable to that of the Korean War or the WWII. There will be a great number of dead and wounded due to its more complicated character.”
The USA military is now thoroughly calculating and intends to execute a plan of a Korean war (nuclear war), one which will exceed the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the orders of Obama, commander in chief.
In short, by visiting Hiroshima, Obama seeks to deceive the survivors and working people of the world as if he is striving for nuclear disarmament all while he aims to get the approval for his nuclear strikes on North Korea. There is no room for reconciliation or compromise between Obama and us Hiroshima people who have been fighting against nuclear weapons and war since August 6th, 1945.
The unity and international solidarity of the working class people has the power to abolish nuclear arms.
People say that when Obama comes to Hiroshima and visits the Peace Museum, he will be more serious in working for the abolition of nuclear arms. But this is a groundless illusion. What was the content of the review of US Secretary of State Kerry, who visited the Peace Memorial Museum and “sincerely” viewed the exhibition after the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in April? He wrote: “War must not be the first means but the last resort.”
That was Kerry’s immediate impression of the Peace Museum. And still they Kerry and Obama alike are preaching the need to maintain the war (that is, a nuclear war) as a last resort! The rulers of the United States have enough knowledge about the reality of the nuclear explosion through the findings of the ABCC (Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission) research, including the cases of serious internal exposure, and have long concealed the facts and materials regarding nuclear disaster. That is why they will by no means renounce the nuke as a final weapon.
War and the nuke are indispensable for the capitalists and the dominant power of the 1% to rule and divide the working people of the 99%: they try to bring antagonism among working people of the world and force them to kill each other for the interests of imperialism. We are witnessing the politics of “killing workers” such as dismissal, irregularization, ultra-low wages and overwork, and the politics of suppressing struggles such as those against war, nuclear arms and power, and military bases. The aggressive war (nuclear war) is the continuation of these politics and it’s Obama and Abe who are enforcing these politics.
We reject the idea to ask Obama and Abe to make efforts for peace or to take countermeasures by means of nuclear weapons like the rulers of North Korea and China. Instead, the working people of the 99% will unite and achieve international solidarity to fight back firmly against the rulers of the 1%. This is the only way to eliminate war and nuclear arms. The primary task we have to do is forming solidarity with the KCTU (Korean Confederation of Trade Unions), who is fighting with repeated decisive general strikes against the new Korean war being prepared by the “Korea-USA-Japan military alliance.”
We call upon all citizens to participate in the demonstrations on May 26th-27th against the visit of Obama to Hiroshima, shoulder to shoulder with atomic bomb sufferers who stand fast to their anti-war and anti-nuclear principle in solidarity with fighting labor unions and student councils.
May 19th, 2016Tags: Doro-Chibanuclear weaponsHiroshima
ATU 1764 First Transit D.C. Circulator drivers reach wage parity deal
By Luz Lazo May 20
D.C. Circulator drivers, union members and others rallied last month on Columbus Circle in support of the bus drivers. Drivers voiced concerns over low pay and unsafe working conditions. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
The company that operates the D.C. Circulator and the union that represents the workers have agreed to increase wages — the kind of raises that will bring the bus drivers’ salaries on par with those of Metrobus drivers.
Under a new three-year contract negotiated between First Transit and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1764, some of the Washington region’s lowest-paid public transit operators will transition to become some of the best-paid. The top wages will increase from the current $23.47 hourly rate to $31.69 by the end of the contract. First Transit has also agreed to triple its contribution to the worker’s retirement savings 401(k) plan, union leaders say.
The benefits agreed upon in the contract are contingent upon the District allocating extra funds for the operations of the bus system. The ATU, which represents Circulator’s 189 drivers, had asked the city to provide $3 million in the next budget to cover the wage and benefit increases. The city’s transportation committee made a recommendation for $1 million, essentially leaving First Transit to cover the rest.
It could not be immediately determined on Friday whether any progress has been made in the budget negotiations on the city front. But some city leaders have said in recent weeks that they are working to find funds to incorporate in the next fiscal budget that is currently under review.
“The city told us to negotiate the contract so we did our part,” said Sesil Rubain, the trustee with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1764. “Now it’s up to the city to come up with the funding.”
[D.C. Circulator drivers step up fight for wage parity]
The District funds the Circulator service but entrusts Metro with Circulator operations and oversight. Metro contracts with First Transit to run the system. The company, which operates several other bus systems across the United States, has run the Circulator since its launch more than a decade ago and is on a $41.6 million, two-year contract that expires next year, according to Metro.
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After hearing that the company had argued that it does not have enough revenue to increase the pay, D.C. Department of Transportation Director Leif A. Dormsjo said last month that the city would pay for the higher wages if the union successfully negotiated them.
DDOT spokesman Terry Owens said the agency is “pleased to hear that labor and management have reached a new 3-year agreement reflecting more competitive wages and benefits for DC Circulator operators.” He said DDOT has requested information from Metro on additional contract costs associated with this agreement.
Drivers had been rallying for months for better salaries, complaining that they provide the same level of service as Metrobus drivers but earn significantly less. Labor leaders said the wage gap has created high turnover in the D.C. Circulator operations, as drivers come in at $16.56 an hour, train, stay two or three years, and often move on when they see it will take a decade to reach the top hourly pay of $23.47.
Drivers often go to Metro, which has a starting hourly wage of $19 that can rise in time to as much as $34, according to Metro and labor contracts.
The union membership ratified the contract this week, and the union and First Transit are expected to officially sign it within days, Rubain said. Once that’s done, the salaries will go into effect immediately, he said, noting that all workers will get a pay raise. Drivers at the top of the pay scale of $23.47 will get raises over the next three years until they reach the $31.69 hourly rate.
As part of the labor negotiations, Union leaders say First Transit has also agreed not to require employees to drive buses that are not in a safe operating condition, answering to growing calls for safety improvements.
An August report by the consulting firm Transit Resource Center found that First Transit had fallen short on maintenance, with some defects severe enough that buses should have been pulled from service until they were repaired. A follow-up inspection in January of a smaller sample of buses found improvements, yet lingering maintenance issues.
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[Multiple critical safety defects found on D.C. Circulator buses, audit says]
The first audit found many examples of neglected maintenance, including instances of engine defects because of oil leaks that were not repaired, and windows that wouldn’t open because they were not lubricated during routine inspections. There were defective mirrors, windshield washers and other equipment controlled by the driver, the inspection of 42 of the D.C. Circulator’s oldest buses showed. Poor oversight has led to troubling safety and operational flaws, according to the audits commissioned by DDOT.
City officials said many of the flaws found in the August audit have been fixed and that DDOT is taking a greater role in the oversight of oversight of the city’s distinctive red buses that provide more than 5.1 million trips annually on six lines.Tags: ATU 1764First TransitDC Transit