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SF Taxi Drivers Stage Noisy Protest Outside Uber HQ

Current News - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 07:53

SF Taxi Drivers Stage Noisy Protest Outside Uber HQ
Posted By Rachel Swan
on Wed, Oct 8, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Rachel Swan
The dozens of taxi drivers who flocked to Uber's mid-Market headquarters today had the usual litany of complaints about how app-based car-hire services are eviscerating the cab industry, and the usual slogans about unfair competition and evil tech companies. One sign framed the battle in Biblical terms: "What would Jesus do?" it asked. Answer: "Hail a taxi."

But today's protest had a sense of palpable desperation that's gradually overtaken the cab industry — or what's left of it — since drivers began protesting their tech counterparts last year. Winter is coming, and it's traditionally a slow season for cabs, as the Examiner reported. And while Uber may have raised safety concerns after a widely publicized hammer assault in September, the company doesn't appear to be going anywhere.

So taxi drivers are fighting back with the best weapon they have: noisy, irritating, uninhibitedly honking horns. A line of cabs from various San Francisco companies circled the block of outside 1455 Market St. today, where Uber cohabitates with social media startup Square. They blared their horns for an uninterrupted hour-and-a-half during lunch hour, allowing the protest to resonate for at least two blocks in every direction.

Tags: UberTaxi drivers
Categories: Labor News

Taxi Drivers Stage Noisy Protest Outside Uber HQ

Current News - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 07:48

SF Taxi Drivers Stage Noisy Protest Outside Uber HQ
Posted By Rachel Swan
on Wed, Oct 8, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Rachel Swan
The dozens of taxi drivers who flocked to Uber's mid-Market headquarters today had the usual litany of complaints about how app-based car-hire services are eviscerating the cab industry, and the usual slogans about unfair competition and evil tech companies. One sign framed the battle in Biblical terms: "What would Jesus do?" it asked. Answer: "Hail a taxi."

But today's protest had a sense of palpable desperation that's gradually overtaken the cab industry — or what's left of it — since drivers began protesting their tech counterparts last year. Winter is coming, and it's traditionally a slow season for cabs, as the Examiner reported. And while Uber may have raised safety concerns after a widely publicized hammer assault in September, the company doesn't appear to be going anywhere.

So taxi drivers are fighting back with the best weapon they have: noisy, irritating, uninhibitedly honking horns. A line of cabs from various San Francisco companies circled the block of outside 1455 Market St. today, where Uber cohabitates with social media startup Square. They blared their horns for an uninterrupted hour-and-a-half during lunch hour, allowing the protest to resonate for at least two blocks in every direction.

Tags: Taxi driversUberCabbies
Categories: Labor News

ILA 1235 Former Pres Sentenced To Prison

Current News - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 07:08

ILA 1235 Former Pres Sentenced To Prison
Longshoremen’s union boss sentenced to 18 months in prison
by staff report • October 8, 2014 • 0 Comments

NEWARK, N.J. – The former president of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) Local 1235 was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for conspiring to extort longshoremen on the New Jersey piers for Christmastime tribute payments, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman and Eastern District of New York U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch announced.
Vincent Aulisi, 82, of West Orange – the president of ILA Local 1235 from 2006 through 2007 – previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi to one count of an indictment charging him with conspiring to extort Christmastime tributes from ILA Local 1235 members. Judge Cecchi imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Aulisi and two other former ILA officers – Thomas Leonardis, 57, of Glen Gardner, the president of the union from approximately 2008 through 2011; and Robert Ruiz, 55, of Watchung, New Jersey, the delegate of the union from approximately 2007 through 2010 – admitted that they conspired to compel tribute payments from ILA union members, who made the payments based on actual and threatened force, violence and fear. The timing of the extortions typically coincided with the receipt by certain ILA members of “Container Royalty Fund” checks, a form of year-end compensation. Leonardis and Ruiz were suspended from their positions following their arrests in January 2011. Aulisi had already retired from his employment on the New Jersey piers at the time of his arrest.
Charges are still pending against three defendants in the superseding indictment, including a racketeering conspiracy charge against Stephen Depiro, 59, of Kenilworth – a soldier in the Genovese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra.
Since at least 2005, Depiro has managed the Genovese family’s control over the New Jersey waterfront – including the nearly three-decades-long extortion of port workers in ILA Local 1, ILA Local 1235, and ILA Local 1478.
Members of the Genovese family, including Depiro, are charged with conspiring to collect tribute payments from New Jersey port workers at Christmastime each year through their corrupt influence over union officials, including the last three presidents of Local 1235.
Two other Genovese family associates charged in the case are former union officials: Albert Cernadas, Sr. 79, of Union, the president of ILA Local 1235 from approximately 1981 to 2006 and former ILA executive vice president; and Nunzio LaGrasso, 63, of Florham Park, the former vice president of ILA Local 1478 and former ILA representative.
Cernadas is the father of an assistant prosecutor at Union County Prosecutor’s Office.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Cecchi sentenced Aulisi to serve one year of supervised release and fined him $10,000.
The U.S. Attorneys credited the FBI in New Jersey, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford, and in New York, under the direction of Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos; as well as the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Cheryl Garcia of the New York Regional Office, with the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony Mahajan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey, and Jacquelyn M. Kasulis of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York.
The charges and allegations against the remaining defendants are merely accusations and they are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Tags: ILAcorruption
Categories: Labor News

Uber hammer attack may clarify firm’s responsibilitiesn "Calling an Uber car at the end of the night, “was supposed to be the responsible, safe thing,” he said. “Instead it’s one of the scariest things I’ve ever experienced.”

Current News - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 06:37

Uber hammer attack may clarify firm’s responsibilities
By Carolyn Said Updated 7:06 pm, Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Uber passenger Roberto Chicas, (right) appears with attorney Harry Stern at a press conference. Chicas, who was allegedly attacked by a driver with a hammer, says he might lose vision in his left eye or the eye itself.
Uber passenger Roberto Chicas, (right) appears with attorney Harry Stern at a press conference. Chicas, who was allegedly attacked by a driver with a hammer, says he might lose vision in his left eye or the eye itself.
His left eye swollen shut and his face battered, Roberto Chicas met the press on Wednesday to discuss his alleged assault two weeks ago by a hammer-wielding UberX driver.
“I got in the car with my friends, and the next thing I remember was waking up in the ICU with doctors all around me,” said Chicas, 35, a San Francisco bartender. “They said I had a concussion, multiple face fractures and would need facial reconstruction surgery.” Worst of all, doctors told Chicas he might lose vision in his left eye, or the eye itself.
“The thought of losing my eye is scary,” Chicas told TV and print reporters at a press conference arranged by his lawyer.
Chicas’ case underscores the legal gray area in which Uber operates. Uber says its drivers are independent contractors, not employees. It calls itself a technology marketplace, not a transportation company. Its terms of service for passengers declare in all caps that they release the company from liability, claims or damages related to “the third-party transportation provider.”
But now, several cases, including that of Chicas and a class-action lawsuit by Uber drivers claiming that they are employees, may help clarify Uber’s responsibilities.
Harry Stern, Chicas’ attorney, says Uber is liable for the actions of its drivers. The alleged assailant, Patrick Karajah, 26, was driving for Uber’s lower-cost UberX service in which nonprofessional drivers offer paid rides in their personal vehicles.
“You can’t offer this service, reap the benefits and profits, and not take responsibility,” Stern said.
Janelle Orsi, an attorny at the Sustainable Economies Law Center in Berkeley who specializes in the sharing economy, said Uber potentially could find a defense in the Communications Decency Act, the landmark 1996 law that shields Internet companies from liability for the words and actions of those who use their services.
However, she said, the more that Uber controls the way its drivers work and how much they charge, the more it appears that those drivers might be employees.
Uber does a criminal background check on all drivers, although critics say it’s less thorough than those done by taxi companies.
While Karajah did not have a criminal record, Stern said a personal interview by Uber would have uncovered “someone who’s erratic; who wouldn’t have passed the smell test in a face-to-face interaction.” Stern was unable to say whether Uber had interviewed the driver in person and Uber did not comment on that. Karajah was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and battery with serious bodily injury, and has pleaded not guilty.
In an e-mail, Uber said: “This was a deplorable incident and we wish Mr. Chicas a quick recovery. Uber’s insurance provider is in contact with representatives of both the rider and driver, and of course we will continue to cooperate with authorities throughout the investigation.”
Ironically, Stern said, the receipt Uber e-mailed Chicas for the fateful ride included a $1 “safety fee” surcharge. That may buttress his legal claims. “It adds a layer of argument that they warrant this is safe passage and they charge for that,” Stern said.
Taxi drivers are self-employed independent contractors, but taxicab companies take responsibility for their actions, said Charles Rathbone, assistant manager of Luxor Cabs.
“In a case like the Uber hammer attack, Luxor would recognize that the liability rests with us,” he said in an e-mail. “Our general liability policy provides coverage up to $1 million, including for assault and battery. Taxi companies do not ask passengers to sign away their legal rights as a condition of getting a ride. Uber does that in its terms of service.”
But Orsi said that the Uber disclaimer may not hold up in court.
“Those waivers are only enforceable when the person agreeing to it absolutely understands what they’re getting into, the risks they’re taking on and the rights they’re waiving,” she said. “When embedded in the terms of service that people don’t read, courts are likely to say they’re unenforceable.”
As for Chicas, he’s just focused on healing.
Calling an Uber car at the end of the night, “was supposed to be the responsible, safe thing,” he said. “Instead it’s one of the scariest things I’ve ever experienced.”
Carolyn Said is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: csaid@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @csaid

Tags: Ubercab drivers
Categories: Labor News

Transport Workers Solidarity Committee’s response to ILWU International’s Statements on ZIM Protests

Current News - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 20:13

Transport Workers Solidarity Committee’s response to ILWU International’s Statements on ZIM Protests

Recent ILWU press releases and public statements are misleading and conflict with well-established ILWU policies and positions on Palestine and Israel. The editor of the ILWU newspaper, The Dispatcher, at the direction of the ILWU President, can not overturn those policies and positions without a vote by Convention delegates.

The Israeli Consulate’s statement that the ZIM Pireaus sailed from the port of Oakland on August 20 after completing cargo operations is untrue. But for the ILWU Communications Director, Craig Merrilees, to make that same statement, reaffirming the Zionist’s self-serving distortion places the ILWU on the side of those responsible for the recent slaughter of over 2,100 Palestinians, most of them innocent Gazan civilians. The false statement implies that the 5-days of picketing by thousands of protesters had no impact on cargo operations. The original call for a mass protest on August 16 and 17, mobilizing a few thousand was made by a coalition, Block the Boat, initiated by the Arab Research and Organizing Committee. However, subsequent picketing on August 18, 19 and 20 that stopped the ship’s cargo operations was done spontaneously by a smaller group of Bay Area activists, including the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee.
The truth is that after failing to gets its cargo worked at the SSA terminal, ZIM Lines tried to fool protesters that the ship was sailing to Russia, but longshoremen knew otherwise. The ship departed August 19, headed out the Golden Gate at night then abruptly reversed course, made a Williamson turn and headed back to the Port of Oakland, this time to Berth 22. Ports America, the employer, tried to shift longshore workers from another ship to work the ZIM Pireaus but there already was a picket line at the terminal gate. Some ILWU Local 10 members refused to work the ship. Those that reluctantly worked it, despite pressure from the employer and union officials, rebelled by slowing down cargo ops to a crawl. One crane operator boasted that barely 1% of containers was actually moved before the ZIM ship was forced to sail.

On September 27, another ZIM ship, the Shanghai, was picketed on the day and night shifts at SSA by 200 protesters mobilized by the Stop ZIM Action Committee and the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee. Three of the organizers were Local 10 retirees, veterans of ILWU’s 1984 anti-apartheid action in San Francisco. Again, Merrilees put out untrue statements, claiming longshore workers were threatened by picketers and were standing by on safety. Actually, an appeal was made in the union hiring hall that morning asking longshoremen not to work the ZIM ship and informing them of a picket line. In a show of solidarity all longshoremen refused Zim jobs except for one. In the evening SSA agreed to remove police from the picketing area if the union would dispatch the jobs. With no police presence it was the picketers and longshore supporters vs ZIM and SSA. We won hands down!

On September 27, the ILWU International issued a press release falsely stating “ the leadership and membership of the ILWU have taken no position on the Israel/Gaza conflict.” The truth is that ILWU passed a Convention resolution in 1988 characterizing Israeli oppression of Palestinians as “state-sponsored terrorism”. ILWU’s 1991 resolution condemns Zionist “suppression of basic freedoms of speech and assembly” of Palestinians and calls for the “right of self-determination”.

Israel has blockaded the port of Gaza since 1967, stopping all ships and putting port workers and longshoremen out of work for nearly 50 years. In 2002, Local 10 officers signed a statement “For International Labor Solidarity to Stop Zionist Repression and Build a Just Peace” to protest the Zionist bombing of the headquarters of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions in the West Bank city of Nablus.

The Journal of Commerce (August 20), the maritime bosses’ newspaper, quoted Communications Director Merrilees: “ILWU members felt threatened by the large number of demonstrators” and made a similar statement regarding the September dock protest. But the truth is the threat to longshoremen comes from the police not protesters. As Local 10 president Melvin Mackay told the San Francisco Chronicle, longshoremen would not work the ship “under armed police escort—not with our experience with the police…”

In a 2003 court case against the Oakland Police Department for shooting so-called “non-lethal” weapons at longshore workers and anti-war protesters, ILWU attorney Rob Remar meticulously documented coordinated police violence against longshore workers since the 1934 Maritime Strike in which two strikers were killed by cops, provoking the San Francisco General Strike. Nowadays ILWU International officers try to deny our militant history and undermine any semblance of class struggle on the docks, especially in the midst of the current contract negotiations. With no contract in place longshoremen can take job actions during negotiations to bolster the union at the bargaining table but the “top down” bureaucracy has reigned in the ranks, preventing the union from flexing its muscle.

Nevertheless, Local 10 has tried to continue ILWU’s proud history of solidarity actions by introducing a resolution at the 2009 Convention “commending the South African dockworkers union for taking a strike action against an Israeli ship in Durban to protest the massacre of 1400 Palestinians by the Israeli army in Gaza”. A year after the Convention resolution passed unanimously, the Local 10 Executive Board voted to “call on the ILWU International officers to lend their voice in protest with other unions against this atrocity by issuing a policy statement in line with the ILWU’s past position on the question of Israeli repression of Palestinians and call for unions to protest by any action they choose to take.” That motion paved the way for Local 10 longshoremen in 2010 in collaboration with anti-Zionist demonstrators to conduct the first-ever job action by an American trade union protesting repressive Israeli government policies. Meanwhile, ILWU International officers have only reaffirmed Israel’s press statements and run a biased pro-Israel article in The Dispatcher (January 2007) by International Secretary-Treasurer Willie Adams with no mention of the plight of Palestinians. It’s time for ILWU International officers to get on board: Oppose apartheid in Israel just as we did in South Africa. The rank and file have shown the way.

Tags: ILUW InternationalZim LInesolidarityZionism
Categories: Labor News

China: Top Beijing Communist lobbies for closer ties between ITUC and ACFTU

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Xinhua
Categories: Labor News

Somalia: Temporary Settlement To Largest Labour Dispute In Over Two Decades

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: RBC
Categories: Labor News

Con-way Freight Raises Driver Pay Ahead of Union Votes in California

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 12:38
Rip WatsonTransport TopicsOctober 8, 2014

Con-way Freight announced a driver pay increase Sept. 30, several weeks before scheduled union representation elections at three Southern California terminals.

Con-way, whose less than truck load unit is the third largest in the United States , said the increase and faster progression to the top rate was tied to the driver shortage.

Click here to read more.

Issues: Freight
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Ethics On the Waterfront: Where have All the Humans Gone? ILWU Coast Contract Fight Over Technology

Current News - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 12:30

Ethics On the Waterfront: Where have All the Humans Gone? ILWU Coast Contract Fight Over Technology
07 Oct 2014
Written by James Preston Allen

AT LENGTH-The American flag barely flaps in the breeze, when the sun risesbehind the Vincent Thomas Bridge, as seen from Eastview Little League baseball fields atop TraPac’s new automated OCR cranes at berths 134-139 can be seen idle with little movement on the docks from that vantage point.
TraPac recently has installed and begun testing the new cranes which utilizes a complete optical character recognition (OCR) solution for every entry and exit point of their terminal. The technology would make the terminal fully automated.
A source told me that the automated cranes there hasn’t been operating for the past two weeks following a health and safety grievance filing by the ILWU. The union claimed that TraPac’s new technology is dangerous following a dozen accidents on that terminal since the automated part of the facility was finished.
The new automated cranes even showed problems on its inaugural launch, with all the executives on site. An accident was avoided only by the quick use of the override switch by a union crane driver.
New technology seems to be the buzzword these days around the harbor with various entities both private and public heralding the economic and environmental benefits of “hi-tech” advances. Even the new Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles Gene Seroka waxed on about how new technologies had reduced air pollution by some 45 percent throughout the past decade, at the San Pedro Chamber leadership breakfast.
Yet, it was the previous POLA Executive Director Geraldine Knatz who signed off on the $150 million to $210 million (there seems to be some disagreement as to exactly how much) TraPac’s transition to fully automate the terminal. It is generally understood that her arrogance for not getting mayoral or city council approval was the cause for her “resignation” this ast year.
Whatever the actual amount was, it left a hole in the current POLA budget that has caused the Board of Harbor Commissioners and Mayor Eric Garcetti to do some deep soul searching on future expenses and the direction this port takes in remaining competitive in the global trade.
The problem is that this TraPac deficit or investment, depending on how you look at it, has caused the Harbor Commission to postpone and delay other long-promised waterfront developments. The trouble with this “hi-tech” solution and its “hi-cost” expense is that it currently can’t prove itself to be safe at any speed, cost millions to install and will cost good paying jobs on the waterfront. It is unclear how many years it will take the port to recoup the investment. More importantly, should the port be investing in this yet to be proven safe technology that will contribute to more job losses than it creates?
This one terminal has now become a focal point of the entire West Coast contract negotiations between the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association and as of this past week, I have been told the TraPac board is split on whether to settle the dispute or call for a lockout of the ILWU.
This, of course, could have far reaching impact on all concerned. A lockout could trigger a complete collapse of the West Coast contract talks, cause a stoppage of all cargo in every port from Vancouver, B.C. to San Diego and could cause far reaching economic impacts from here to Chicago.
This, I predict, would call for immediate presidential intervention and I’m not so sure how the PMA would fare with a Barack Obama-appointed arbitrator settling the dispute.
This may end up as being one of those historic moments, though, when everything changes, like the year longshoring changed to containerization. And I am not convinced that the majority of ILWU workers understand what’s at stake.
These new technologies will replace as many as 25 percent of the current jobs and the jobs that remain or the new jobs created will mostly take a higher skill set than what most of these workers are trained in. Our schools and universities are not even ramped up to teach to this level yet. The question is whether any new jobs created by automation will in fact remain here or even be under the jurisdiction of the ILWU?
I would bet that this last question is the crux of the long drawn-out contract negotiations that hangs over the ILWU and PMA jointly. How many jobs remain and who represents the new jobs that are created? It doesn’t take much to imagine a sci-fi future in which our aspiration for automation has progressed so far that the PMA wants to replace all workers with androids and that the entire port operates on a 24-hour schedule with no holidays, no overtime and no grumbling from the robots.

Tags: ilwuCoast ContractAutomationtechnologyTrapac Board
Categories: Labor News

Teamsters Warehouse Workers Face a Bankruptcy Court Designed to Protect Bosses, Not Workers

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 12:26
Bruce VailIn These TimesOctober 8, 2014View the original piece

Leaders of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are mobilizing their forces in the wake of an unexpected attack by a notoriously anti-union warehousing company looking to undermine workers with back-room tactics in federal bankruptcy court.

The Keene, New Hampshire-based C&S Wholesale Grocers’s actions could prove to be an immediate threat to the livelihoods of about 1,100 Teamster members in the Mid-Atlantic region, the latest in a series of damaging anti-union maneuvers by the company. The action also highlights the growing market power of C&S, a low-profile company that has quietly grown into the nation’s largest warehousing corporation.

Click here to read more at In These Times.

Issues: Warehouse Newswire
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Instead of Training Drivers, Uber Charges $65 to Learn Customer Skills

Current News - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 11:47

Uber is famous for cutting corners to make a buck. Now a Forbes report reveals that the on-demand service provides no mandatory training of its drivers and doesn't inspect their cars. Rather, Uber charges drivers upwards of $65 for optional customer service classes that could help make the service safer.
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In fact, the only official training new drivers receive come from few quick videos showing off the company's app. Everything else is left for the driver to figure out.
[Washington D.C. Uber driver Michael Coe] was never trained on how to navigate the D.C. area or given tips on how to resolve disputes with passengers — both of which could have helped avoid incidents like the alleged hammer attack on Roberto Chicas, where Chicas and the driver argued over the route. Also, no one tried to suss out whether Coe had the right personality for a customer-oriented job — a tall order for car-service app companies, but one that Chicas's attorney, Harry Stern, says Uber should have done.
As paltry training, Uber offers a series of videos like "How to get 5-star ratings" and "What makes Uber great." None of it covers how to handle difficult situations, Coe said. "If your rider is being belligerent, what do you do? What do you do with an unruly passenger?" he said. "We don't know."
When drivers in D.C. sign-up with Uber, they go to a hotel to get their paperwork and their phone leased from Uber, and are then pushed out the door, Coe told Forbes. Theoretically, they can begin driving for Uber as soon as they hit the road.

Instead of making sure drivers are equipped to handle disputes (or disabled customers), the company sells paid classes run by an outside firms to its drivers. One course from 7×7 Executive teaches "driver professionalism tips and basic safety concepts for commercial drivers" and offers a discussion on "common customer service issues and how to address them."
Hopefully the class now instructs drivers to leave the hammer at home.

Tags: Uberregulationcriminal
Categories: Labor News

The Great Wage Slowdown of the 21st Century

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 07:03
David LeonhardtThe New York TimesOctober 8, 2014View the original piece

American workers have been receiving meager pay increases for so long now that it’s reasonable to talk in sweeping terms about the trend. It is the great wage slowdown of the 21st century.

The typical American family makes less than the typical family did 15 years ago, a statement that hadn’t previously been true since the Great Depression. Even as the unemployment rate has fallen in the last few years, wage growth has remained mediocre. Last week’s jobs report offered the latest evidence: The jobless rate fell below 6 percent, yet hourly pay has risen just 2 percent over the last year, not much faster than inflation. The combination has puzzled economists and frustrated workers.

Click here to read more at The New York Times.

Issues: Labor Movement
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Major Canadian National Railway Derailment and Fire in Saskatchewan

Railroaded's Blog - Tue, 10/07/2014 - 19:40

This morning, a CN train carrying dangerous goods derailed near Clair and Wadena, Saskatchewan, sending plumes of smoke at least 30 metres into the air and forcing residents from their homes (CBC NewsCTV News).

The train consisted of three locomotives and 100 cars – 26 cars derailed. An explosion and fire came from petroleum distillates which spilled from two of the derailed cars. The fire was huge according to local sources, and was still burning this evening. Local officials were worried about the toxic smoke and kept people eight kilometres away from the scene. About 50 people from Clair were evacuated, as well as others from farm homes in the area. Evacuated people were sent to an operations and reception centre set up in Wadena. School students in Wadena were kept indoors during the day, as a precaution. Local farmers were worried about the safety of their livestock. Huge plumes of thick, black, heavy smoke and fire were reported as local fire departments wrestled with the fire. Provincial officials said detours would remain in place until the area is safe.

Six of the derailed cars were loaded with hazardous materials, four with either hydrochloric acid or caustic soda and two with petroleum distillates. CN refuses to provide real-time data on the hazardous materials they haul across the country, which means municipal fire departments are often left guessing what materials they must deal with in order to protect local residents whenever there is a derailment and spill such as this one.

The advocacy organizations, Transport Action Canada and Environmental Defence, expressed serious concerns about the derailment and about rail safety in general in Canada. Adam Scott of Environmental Defence said, rail companies like CN are not required to publicly disclose the types of hazardous materials being transported on trains. “It’s unacceptable. The municipalities themselves, the communities have no power, no control, and in this case no information even over what’s being run through the rail lines.” Harry Gow of Transport Action Canada, said, “I would say that if one wants to ensure safety in moving hazardous goods, one has to have inspectors who are empowered to do the work, that are trained to do more than just check the company’s paperwork, and are sufficiently numerous and well-resourced to get out on the ground and see what’s going on. The incident in Saskatchewan today is fortunately not occurring in a large town, but that doesn’t excuse the lack of oversight by Transport Canada.”

This is the sixth reported CN derailment in Saskatchewan and the 29th reported CN derailment in the Prairie Provinces during the past year. CN does not report many of its derailments, so the actual number is undoubtedly higher. See CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents for details of hundreds of other Canadian National Railway derailments, spills and fires in Canada and the U.S.

Filed under: Canadian National Railway, Derailment
Categories: Labor News

Is that a ghost employee?

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Tue, 10/07/2014 - 11:42

October 7, 2014: A review of the IBT’s financial report – or the $150,000 Club Report posted on this website – shows that an International Organizer made a salary of $250,000 last year. Could this possibly be true?


Some members have asked that question, and the answer is No, it’s not true. But that’s what’s reported on the IBT financial report.


Former Teamster organizer Tim Lewis was fired by the Hoffa administration in 2010.  He went to court against his unlawful termination and the IBT had to pay over $1 million to Lewis and his attorney’s fees and costs.


That was paid from members’ treasury, not by the officials who did the deed.


Apparently, the International union was still paying for this fiasco in 2013 and chose to list Lewis as an “employee” on the 2013 LM-2 financial report, three years after he was terminated.


Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) listed Lewis in our report, to conform with data on the LM-2 form filed by the IBT with the Department of Labor. But no, he was not an organizer in 2013 and certainly was not paid an annual salary of $250,000. 

Issues: Hoffa Watch
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Barry Silverman: former ILWU Research Director  

ILWU - Tue, 10/07/2014 - 10:07

Barry Silverman

Former ILWU Research Director Barry Silverman died on August 18, 2014, at the age of 74 due to complications from a brain seizure. His wife, Carolyn his two children, Joshua Silverman and Kerry Fiero were by his side.

Silverman was hired by former Inter-national President Harry Bridges in 1965 to serve as the ILWU’s Research Director. He continued in that position under International President Jim Herman, also serving as chief of staff. He provided sup-port for longshore and warehouse negotiating committees on the West Coast and in Hawaii, with a particular expertise on health and welfare and pension issues. He assisted in many arbitrations and wrote the grant that established the longshore safety program. During the 1970’s and early 80’s, he taught collective bargaining courses at San Francisco City College, and enjoyed passing his skills to students.

Silverman’s career at the ILWU was cut short in 1988 following a cerebral hemorrhage, but he remained active after retirement – serving as an outspoken member of the Alameda County Grand Jury in 1995-1996, and traveling and camping with his wife. He was an avid walker, and was known as the “mayor of the track” at the Rev. Martin Luther King Intermediate School in Berkeley.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Silver-man attended Fairfax High School, then joined the Army Reserve, and headed to Berkeley where he graduated UC and earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration in 1965. He participated in the Free Speech Movement and stayed involved in political issues, participating in rallies and protests over three decades – spending a few days behind bars for his efforts.  After graduating, he married Wende Shoemaker with whom he built a family and had two children, Joshua and Kerry. Later in life Silverman was re-married to Carolyn Corbelli, with whom he spent the last 26 years.

In addition to his love for politics and the union, Silverman was passion-ate about baseball, boxing, jazz, the out-doors, and horse racing.  He sometimes joked that Harry Bridges – who was also passionate about horse racing – had hired Silverman more for his handicap-ping skills than expertise in labor relations.  But above all he earned a solid reputation for his research and negotiating skills, and was admired for his straight-forward, direct and warm demeanor.

Silverman’s memorial was held on September 13, 2014 in Berkeley, attended by his family and friends, including many ILWU members and staff. He is survived by his wife, Carolyn Corbelli, former wife Wende Shoemaker, brother Richard Silverman, son Joshua Silverman, daughter Kerry Fiero, son-in-law Gian Fiero and grandson Gianardo Fiero.

Categories: Unions

Justices Weighing Wages for After-Work Screenings

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Tue, 10/07/2014 - 07:59
Steven GreenhouseThe New York TimesOctober 7, 2014View the original piece

After his 12-hour shifts at an Amazon warehouse in Las Vegas, Jesse Busk says, he and 200 other workers typically waited in line for 25 minutes to undergo a security check to see whether they had stolen any goods.

Upset that the temp agency that employed him refused to pay workers for that time, Mr. Busk sued. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about this hotly contested issue.

Click here to read more at The New York Times.

Issues: Labor Movement
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Working on the Railroad and a Song

Current News - Mon, 10/06/2014 - 19:42

Working on the Railroad and a Song
Berry Craig

Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan needed more volunteers to help make phone calls, canvass neighborhoods and hand out leaflets on behalf of union-endorsed candidates.
So he dispatched out an “All hands on deck!” email to labor activists statewide. When Louisville labor troubadour and composer J.P. Wright got the cyber message, he grabbed a pencil and his guitar and wrote a song.
OK, he came up with new words to the old union classic, "Which Side Are You On?" He titled his version, “United We Stand and Divided We Fall, ‘All Hands on Deck!’ Is the Union's Battle Call!”

"It's sort of an old folk tradition—keep the melody and update the words," says David Nickell, a sociology professor at West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah and a member of AFT Local 1360.

Wright is a locomotive engineer with CSX Railroad and a member of Louisville Local 78 of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), which is part of the Teamsters’ Rail Conference. He’s also a national organizer with Railroad Workers United and belongs to the old Industrial Workers of the World and Kentucky Jobs with Justice.
A Falls City native who hails from a union family, Wright has written and performed several union songs. Most of them reflect his railroad and union backgrounds. "Railroad music is the thread in the quilt that is Americana,” Wright says.
More of his songs can be heard online at Railroadmusic.org.

Tags: Railway. labor musician
Categories: Labor News

German train drivers vote to strike

Current News - Mon, 10/06/2014 - 18:20

German train drivers vote to strike
By Ulrich Rippert 
6 October 2014
Last Thursday, the train drivers union GDL announced that 91 percent of its members had voted to take unlimited strike action.
Following several warning strikes at the beginning of September, the industrial dispute at Deutsche Bahn (DB) has reached a new stage. Last week, the GDL declared that negotiations had broken down. They are demanding a 5 percent wage increase and a reduction in the working week by two hours. In the future, the union wants to represent conductors, onboard catering staff, apprentices, and dispatchers, as well as drivers. These occupational groups were solely represented by the Rail and Transport Union (EVG) as part of a so-called “foundation contract” that expired at the end of June.
At the same time, the industrial dispute by Lufthansa pilots is also intensifying. Despite several warning strikes, Lufthansa is in conflict with the pilots’ union Cockpit (VC), which is defending the existing early retirement system.
The demands of the train drivers and pilots are completely justified. For several years, workers in these transport concerns have faced unrelenting attacks. Deutsche Bahn cut its workforce from 350,000 to 190,000 between 2002 and 2012, leading to constant overtime working. Rail employees worked almost 8 million hours of overtime last year.
However, the industrial disputes on the rail and in the air involve far more than just wage rises, pension security, and a reduction in working times.
In close collaboration with the employers’ associations and the German Confederation of Trade Unions (DGB), the government is preparing a massive attack on the right to strike. At the core of this strategy is a new law on so-called “unified contract negotiations”, under which only the union with the majority of members in an enterprise would retain the right to negotiate. This would give the monopoly of power to those unions belonging to the DGB, pulling the rug from under smaller unions like the GDL, Cockpit, UFO (air traffic controllers), and the Marburger Bund (doctors).
Given that the DGB and its affiliated unions collaborate closely with the employers and government, this means the de facto abolition of the right to strike. Industrial action by workers who reject the co-management policies of the DGB unions would then be illegal.
This breaches the constitutionally enshrined right to strike. Nevertheless, Labour Minister Andreas Nahle (SPD, Social Democratic Party) intends to present a law on unified contract negotiations in just a few weeks. She is working closely with DGB leader Reiner Hoffmann. As demanded by the employers’ associations and the DGB, the new law proposes that in future, only the union with majority representation will be able to negotiate contracts.
In the present dispute, the state-owned Deutsche Bahn is attempting to set an example. The DB supervisory board includes senior civil servants and EVG chairman Alexander Kirchner and his deputy Klaus Dieter Hommel. The company is insisting that the GDL already recognise “contract unity” and conclude a cooperation agreement with the EVG, which would be tantamount to subordinating its independence to the DGB union.
The EVG is the successor to the unions Transnet and GdED, and has collaborated with DB in pushing through massive job cuts in previous years. It supports the rail employers in the industrial dispute with the GDL.
In an interview last week with the Süddeutsche Zeitung, GDL leader Claus Weselsky said the strike had been deliberately provoked by management. He added, “Moreover, this was at the same time as the pilots [dispute] at Lufthansa”. In five rounds of negotiations, DB has refused to recognise the demands of the GDL, let alone negotiate.
Everyone can see what is being done here, Weselsky said. “These two occupational groups are to provide the justification for the planned, but disputed, law on contract unity—with which occupational unions are to be forced to submit to the contract negotiated by the larger sectoral unions”.
One day before the announcement of the strike ballot, DB lead negotiator Werner Bayreuther attacked GDL leader Weselsky in an “open letter”, which was also provided to the media. In it, the former judge and business consultant raises serious accusations against Weselsky, accusing him of aggravating the situation and now finding himself “in a dead end”.
Bayreuther said that Weslesky had no interest in conducting genuine negotiations. Instead, he was conducting a struggle against Deutsche Bahn and the EVG in order to win more members among the workforce. “It is not acceptable that the train drivers put the cart before the horse in our business, to force the expansion [in members] they have sought for years inside the company”, writes Beyreuther.
He concludes with a “last offer”, which can only be described as a provocation. Under the terms of this, negotiations would be suspended until the new law on “contractual unity” is ready, and the supreme court had decided against the already announced legal complaints. “For the duration of this moratorium”—foreseeably several years—the train drivers would receive a monthly supplement of 2 percent.
Faced with this situation, it is clear that the DB management is acting in close concert with the government, and that a strike by drivers and conductors would mean a confrontation with the government.
The DB management, government, and DGB want to force the train drivers to prostrate themselves in order to limit the right to strike, and push through a new round of massive attacks on wages, social benefits, and working conditions for all workers. They have already brought the media on board, who agitated against the strikers during their recent protest actions. They will not hesitate to go to the courts in order to have the strike banned and to criminalise strikers.
To fight against this, a political programme is necessary that goes far beyond the limited conceptions of the GDL. From the start, train drivers must seek to mobilise support in all other sections of the working class that confront very similar problems. Growing privatisation and global competition are increasing exploitation, not only in air and rail transport, but are leading to harsher attacks in all other industries and services.
The train drivers must organise their strike as the beginning of a broad political movement against the government. This calls for a political programme that opposes the logic of capitalist profit and advocates a socialist perspective and an international strategy.
The strike must not be subordinated to the limited national perspective of the GDL as an occupational union. It was already clear in earlier industrial disputes that the GDL is not prepared to conduct a consistent struggle against Deutsche Bahn and the government that stands behind it. In March 2008, the union broke off a months-long strike because its extension would have led to a confrontation with the government.
The GDL is part of the German Civil Servant Association (DBB), and the union’s chairman, Claus Weselsky, is not only a DBB executive member, but also belongs to the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Weselsky and the GDL, like Cockpit, act as if a national union can defend the interests of workers in the age of global crisis if only it is more militant and less corrupt.
But this is an illusion. In reality, the struggle to defend workers’ rights and achievements immediately poses the question of political perspective. And here, the occupational unions agree with the DGB unions, despite all their conflicts. Both accept the capitalist profit system.
Weselsky has taken care not to damage the German economy. During the protest strikes at the beginning of September he rejected taking any joint strike action with Lufthansa and French pilots who were on strike. He said at the time, “We occupational unions act responsibly concerning our right to strike. We are taking care to ensure that through discussions there are no parallel strikes”.
In France as well, the pilots union brutally strangled the strike at precisely the moment other sections of the working class signalled their support and it could have become the launch point for a mobilisation against the Hollande government.
The train drivers and conductors’ readiness to fight is very welcome. But this poses the urgency of establishing the political and organisational independence of the working class on the basis of an international socialist programme.

Tags: railway workersGermany
Categories: Labor News

Global: World Day for Decent Work – Events Worldwide

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 10/06/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News


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