Feb 26, 2014: Local 745 members held a TDU meeting in El Paso, Texas to talk about enforcing their contracts, the future of the union and rebuilding Teamster Power.
Teamsters in El Paso are members of Local 745 in Dallas which is 635 miles away!
That kind of distance takes the “local” right out of local union. So members decided to cook up some Teamster Unity of their own and organized a TDU meeting in El Paso on Feb. 22.
The meeting was organized by Teamsters at UPS and UPS Freight. Different generations of Teamsters came together with the common goal of building a stronger union for the future.
Members shared strategies for dealing with contract violations, including seniority, supervisors working, excessive overtime and production harassment.
How to stop concessions at UPS and UPS Freight was another hot topic.
“When we spoke up at the contract vote here in El Paso, they told us, ‘If you don’t like it, get out of the union,’” one UPS Freight Teamster said. “No way are we getting out of the Union. We’re getting even more involved.”
Rebuilding Teamster Power by informing and involving members. That’s what TDU is all about.
Click here to read more about TDU: Who We Are, What We’ve Won, Where We Stand.
Active and retired Teamsters in northeast Ohio are organizing a meeting for Saturday, March 8 to address pension issues. The meeting is sponsored by TDU and will be held at the Days Inn - Richfield at 10 am. Ann Curry Thompson, an attorney well versed in pension law, will be a guest speaker.
The meeting comes in response to Congress considering changes to pension law. Teamsters are encouraged to invite co-workers and spouses to learn more about possible cuts for those already retired or soon to be.
Details are available on this flier.Issues: TDUPension and Benefits
Feb 24, 2014. Fairbanks, St. Louis County, Minnesota. 50 CN cars plus 2 locomotives derailed. The train was loaded with iron ore pellets and was bound for Two Harbors. 2 engineers on the train were taken to a local hospital. (Duluth News Tribune)
Feb 23, 2014. Saint-Henri, Montreal, Quebec. 2 CN locomotives and 2 cars carrying grain fell off the rails on a CN main line close to homes, community organizations and schools. About 3,500 litres of diesel fuel spilled from one of the locomotives and caused an undisclosed amount of environmental damage. (Global News, Globe and Mail)
Feb 9, 2014. New Lenox, Illinois. 3 to 4 CN cars derailed near Lincoln-Way High School and one of the cars hit and damaged a locomotive that was stopped on an adjacent track. One of the derailed cars was carrying plastic; the others were apparently empty. Motorist traffic was blocked and had to be rerouted. This particular area is contentious among New Lenox residents because when CN bought the former EJ&E tracks, they announced plans to quadruple the number of freight trains. Local officials tried to get CN to build an overpass at one of the major crossings to mitigate the additional train traffic, but CN refused. (CBS Chicago)
Jan 31, 2014. Outside New Augusta, Mississippi. 19 CN cars fell off the tracks, spilling 50,000 gallons of crude oil, 17,000 gallons of fertilizer and 10,000 gallons of petroleum distillate. Other hazardous goods reported spilled included undisclosed volumes of fuel oil, methanol and ethanol. Most of the hazardous goods spilled from 3 of the derailed tank cars, although other derailed cars were also spilling hazardous products. About 50 nearby Perry County residents were evacuated for over 2 days and sheltered in a special Red Cross facility set up for those affected by the derailment. About 100 railroad employees and 50 government officials, firemen and police officers were on site assisting with clean up efforts which were estimated to take about a week to complete. The extent of environmental damage was not disclosed. (The Republic, Hattiesburg American 1, Hattiesburg American 2)
Jan 28, 2014. Mundelein, Illinois. A CN freight train derailed and forced Metra commuters on the North Central Services to make other transportation plans for at least a day. The cold hampered CN from repairing the tracks and moving the derailed cars, one of which was carrying plastic pellets. Several other CN freight trains were halted on the single track and had to be moved before the Metra service could be restored. (Daily Herald)
Jan 26, 2014. Saint-Basile, Edmundston, New Brunswick. 5 CN freight cars jumped the tracks; 3 were carrying automobiles, one was carrying clay and the 5th car was carrying flammable propane. The cars tipped over and were lying on their side in a ditch. A local farmer had warned CN last summer that repairs were required at the site of the derailment. (CBC News 1, CBC News 2)
See CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents for hundreds of additional examples of CN derailments. The escalating number of CN derailments and spills on main and non-main lines, plus those incurred by companies other than CN, are strong indications that the rail industry is currently not in a position to safely transport dangerous and hazardous products in North America. Significant changes are required to improve rail safety.
Filed under: Canadian National Railway, CN Railway, Derailment, Spills
Korea (South): ITUC calls on South Korean Gvt to stop repression of the labour movement and to respect fundamental rights
CN and CP politely told Edmonton city officials to mind their own business when city officials raised concerns last year about the inordinately long traffic waits at many railway crossings in Edmonton. City officials had asked if the two rail giants could modify their operations during rush hour to reduce long traffic waits. Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway officials said nothing could be done, and that their operations have no accountability to municipal governments (Edmonton Journal, CBC News).
The City has been receiving many complaints from irate motorists who repeatedly get stuck at railway crossings, especially during rush hour. Mayor Don Iveson recently said he personally receives complaints from drivers who face long waits at crossings in southeast Edmonton. “For a long time, the railways have been closer to God than anything else in Canada. The federal government has given them wide latitude,” he said. “That made sense in the 19th century and early 20th century, but with major rail operations in busy urban centres I think peaceful coexistence is worth pursuing…The railways enjoy a privileged position…We need to work with the MPs, the government of Canada. We need something consistent across Canada.”
See this link for more information on long waits at railway crossings across Canada and the United States. Railway companies do indeed enjoy a very privileged position where they can essentially delay hundreds of thousands of North Americans for long periods daily, thereby negatively affecting productivity and causing significant increases in vehicle exhaust pollution.
Filed under: Canadian National Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway, CN Railway, CP Railway
KCTU Message Of Soldiarity To San Francisco Labor Solidarity Rally On February 25, 2014 at Korean Consulate
KCTU Message Of Solidarity To San Francisco Labor Rally On February 25, 2014 at SF Korean Consulate
February 25, 2014
I am honored to extend my warmest greetings of struggle and solidarity from Seoul. Tu-jeang!
Today workers and people in Korea walked out to protest the government's attack on human and trade union rights, quality public services and democracy on the last day of the Park, Geunhye administration's first year.
The government want to celebrate its first aniversary, but people are crying out "After one year under Park government, we can't stand it anymore!"
KCTU members, together with broader social movements inclusing peasants, the urban poor, small shop keepers, students and youth staged a rally in Seoul and major cities in each province.
During our struggle at the end of last year and early this year, a lot of organizations in different countries showed their strong solidairty. We were very moved and found that we are not alone.
I believe that struggle against the labour repression, privatization and for real democracy is common among workers around the world. We are already united in the same struggle and it is workers in struggle who will win!
Today's action in SF were reported in our rally in Seoul. Once again I extend my gratitude for your solidarity! Tujaeng!
For support to Korean Railway Workers Union
Competition by the oil industry for railway track space is causing a major backlog in grain shipments by CN and CP. That’s what grain farmers across Canada are saying as they see their bumper crops piling up at grain elevators because CN and CP can make more money hauling crude oil and other dangerous goods. This bottleneck is triggering a drop in grain prices. Shipping vessels are leaving ports empty, waiting in vain for grain shipments that aren’t arriving by rail. Grain companies are charged up to $18,000/ship in penalties for every day a ship has to sit and wait for trains to bring the grain.
Last year, grain farmers saw a 33% increase in crop yield above 2012 levels, but CN and CP aren’t responding with an adequate number of grain cars. Farmers are calling the rail service abysmal. Even when railways do fill elevator orders, only 27% of the cars are delivered on time, and railways are leaving their cars at elevators up to 11 days. Alberta’s Agriculture Minister says railway companies that fail to meet their grain-shipping commitments should pay financial penalties. The federal Agriculture Minister says the existing grain transport system is broken, calling railways the “weak link” in the supply chain. He is considering all options to fix the problem including legislation to force CN and CP to fulfill their commitments to grain farmers. Currently, the railways call almost all of the shots and aren’t penalized for breaking their grain-hauling commitments.
The federal government and the grain industry have agreed to co-fund a study of grain backlogs in an attempt to improve the situation. Unfortunately, the rail industry is not providing any funding to the study, inspite of CN and CP causing the problem in the first place. Once again, the rail transport monopolies held by CN and CP in Canada are hurting a major sector of our economy; however, at the same time stock prices for both rail giants continue to climb. Sources for this story include: CBC News, Edmonton Journal 1, Edmonton Journal 2, Edmonton Journal 3, Edmonton Journal 4.
Filed under: Canadian National Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway, CN Railway, CP Railway
Truck delays at Port of New York and New Jersey spark outrage and protest
By Dan Brennan
25 February 2014
Chronic truck backups at the Port of New York and New Jersey have ballooned into nightmarish delays over the past several weeks, sparking anger and job action by port truckers. This month truckers have repeatedly endured wait times several hours long to drop off and pick up cargo at the port. For drivers, a majority of whom are paid by the trip rather than by the hour, these delays are leading to economic devastation.
Long line of trucks outside Port Newark
Long queues outside of the container terminals have been increasingly frequent since last summer, when the largest terminal operator botched the rollout of a computer system, bringing cargo movements to a near standstill. Since then, a combination of factors, including labor shortages on the docks, ongoing equipment problems and severe weather, have combined to cripple the flow of truck movement at the port. Heavy snowfalls and obstructions to hiring more longshoremen are blamed for triggering the recent delays.
“The way the piers are now, you don’t make money,” Robin Rodriguez, a port truck driver for 16 years, explained. “The turnaround time for loading a container on a truck should be an hour at the most. But here it can sometimes be six or seven hours. You can’t make a living. If every day the port is this way then they should compensate the truckers.”
Robin added that in the first five or six years he made a decent living hauling port containers. “Now I am not. Fuel and tolls went up. Rates paid to us have not gone up. Companies say there is a bidding war for work and that it costs too much for containers. I work for a company. I was an independent. I am not happy. I liked being independent but I needed more steady work.”
Nelson Santiago, a port truck driver who had just been laid off after a workplace injury, recounted his recent experience: “It is abuse of workers. It takes three or four hours to get out sometimes. I went to Sealand [terminal] and it took me five hours.”
The current delays come on top of a ruinous past several years for drivers. The economic crisis wiped out thousands of truck jobs in New York and New Jersey as container shipments plunged, down by 15 percent in 2009 from the peak two years prior. Cargo volumes barely recovered by the time Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012. Flooding from the storm destroyed tens of thousands of trucks. Environmental rules banning older, heavily polluting trucks from the port added to the strain, forcing some truck owner-operators to purchase newer vehicles or find other work.
Even before the string on calamities hit, port drivers faced tremendous difficulty making ends meet. A survey conducted in 2008 by researchers at Rutgers University found that Port of New York and New Jersey truck drivers earned very low wages and few, if any, benefits. The situation was somewhat worse for owner-operators, who work as contractors for trucking companies. Approximately three-quarters fall into this category, earning on average less than $10 an hour (about $2 an hour less than company drivers), based on making two to three port trips per day. Given the current congestion at the port, three trips a day is nothing more than a fading memory.
Anger among drivers over lost income and deplorable working conditions has begun expressing itself in moves towards strike action. A port drivers’ Facebook forum contained several posts and photos of drivers refusing work on February 17 in protest. While the action did not appear to have a significant effect on overall port operations, it points to the growing unwillingness of drivers to tolerate what has become an unbearable situation.
Similar conditions exist at ports throughout the United States. Late last year drivers at the Port of Oakland held a series of one-day strikes and protests, demanding pay for time spent waiting in long queues and more assistance to fund mandatory truck replacements.
In the face of this, the Teamsters are offering their services to contain the threat of any possible explosion. The union joined with environmental organizations in pushing through rule changes in 2008 at the Port of Los Angeles to require employee drivers, instead of independent contractors, as part of a diesel pollution reduction program, and it attempted the same at the Port of New York and New Jersey. However, the effort, which could have opened a pool of workers for potential unionization, was struck down in federal court. Lately the strategy has shifted to legal challenges and legislation aimed at reclassifying truck driver contractors as employees.
Far from waging a genuine fight to improve conditions for truck drivers, the Teamsters and their allies in the Democratic Party conceive of their role as a lucrative partnership with industry to continue to transfer wealth from workers to the corporate elite. Where the Teamsters have maintained a presence, they have continually demonstrated their ability to force through massive concessions. For example at YRC, one of the largest less-than-truckload carriers in the country, the Teamsters have overseen a workforce cut in half since 2006, and collaborated with the company in January to push through a five-year extension of drastic wage and pension cuts.
The prevailing conditions of poverty-level wages and lack of health care and retirement benefits in the port trucking industry is a direct consequence of the bipartisan policy of deregulation initiated by President Carter in 1980. In industry after industry, regulatory impediments to big business reaping enormous profits were removed at the expense of workers. In the shipping industry today, giant retailers like Walmart, Target and Home Depot are able to control shipping prices and ensure cut-throat competition that leaves drivers with next to nothing.
The restructuring of the industry has also led to a situation where the income of truck drivers is dependent upon speed-up of longshore workers. This feature has been exploited to pit drivers against longshoremen. In order to obscure the fact that the low pay and poor conditions of truck drivers is a consequence of an economic structure designed to exploit them, the blame is placed on “lazy” and “greedy” longshore workers.
While dockworkers do typically earn more than truck drivers, their jobs have been under continual attack as port terminals move towards greater automation. Between 1970 and 1986 alone, the number of dockworkers at the Port of New York and New Jersey declined by over 75 percent. The contract signed last year by longshore workers mandates productivity gains, reduces the size of work gangs, and pushes early retirement for older workers, to be replaced by less costly new hires.
Truck drivers, while expressing some antagonistic sentiments towards longshoremen, also pointed to the growing levels of inequality more broadly. Claude, an independent trucker, remarked, “The lines of trucks waiting to load are backed up all the way to the turnpike. You have to wait hours for [the longshoremen] to give you a chassis. They sit behind their windows and yell ‘What d’ya want?’ They slow down probably to get overtime. They slow down so they don’t get laid off,” Claude said, adding, “The big problem is they want the rich to be richer and the poor poorer. The rich are the main enemy.”
“I don’t agree with how all these CEOs are making such great bonuses,” Robin Rodriguez added. “I don’t understand it. There are more workers and poor than the rich. Eventually they will fight back. Do they want chaos?”
I recently read that Gap plans to raise its wage to $10 by the end of next year. Yet, Walmart, the country’s largest retailer, has failed to act while many of its 1.3 million workers are barely scraping by. We all know Walmart can do better, but is choosing not to. That’s why I call on you to pay Walmart workers a minimum of $25,000 a year so they are not forced to rely on government assistance.Why Act Now:
Tell Walmart it can’t claim to be neutral on raising the minimum wage when despite its massive profits last year, it chooses to pay its employees so little that many are forced to rely on tax-payer programs. It’s time to take responsibility and start providing decent jobs.
For more than two years, workers at Walmart have been bravely standing up for change at the retail Goliath. The company has sought to silence these workers by targeting and firing many of those who speak out. Workers have bravely gone on strike to protest this retaliation and Walmart is now facing prosecution by the National Labor Relations Board for this illegal intimidation.
While workers have made significant progress at the store-level in many locations, Walmart corporate continues to focus on shiny PR ads about opportunity in the company, rather than creating quality job. By the company’s own admission, most workers make less than $25,000 a year. Most deal with erratic work schedules and inadequate hours on top of low pay.
Worst of all, Walmart can afford to do better, but it chooses not to.
Despite its $17 billion in profits last year, it chooses to pay its employees so little that many are forced to rely on tax-payer programs. In fact, last November Fortune demonstrated how Walmart could afford to raise workers’s wages by 50% without hurting the business. Similarly, Demos concluded that Walmart could afford to give workers a “substantial raise.”
Click here to sign the petition.
Issues: Labor Movement
Last Friday, UPS Teamsters in Local 710 Voted No by 73% to reject a weak contract, which was patterned after the national agreement. The Local 710 ballot stated it was a strike authorization vote. But there will not be any strike. Why?
Because the “strike vote” was only a scare tactic to try to coerce members into accepting a contract they didn’t want. Hoffa and Hall have threatened to use the same scare tactics on the next contract vote in Philadelphia and in Western Pennsylvania.
UPS wants no part of a strike especially coming on the heels of the company’s Christmas season PR problems.
Any strike would be devastating to UPS. Brown has an integrated delivery network and cannot function without the packages that go through Chicago, the Louisville Worldport hub or the Philadelphia Airport Hub.
This gives our union leverage. But instead of using a strike threat against the company, Hoffa and Hall are turning it around as a scare tactic against the members.
The scare tactic didn’t work with the 6,000 members of Local 710, across Illinois, Northern Indiana, and Davenport, Iowa. Now will Hoffa and Hall try the same tactic in Pennsylvania?
Western Pa, Philadelphia, Louisville to Meet
Ken Hall has directed the union negotiating committees Western Pa, Philadelphia and Louisville to meet in Ft. Lauderdale during the National Grievance Panel meetings next week to discuss their unresolved supplements or rider, and their outstanding issues.
It’s time for Hall to back up these Teamsters, instead of continuing to use lies and scare tactics against them.Issues: UPS
U.S. safety regulators examining the fatal crash of a United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) jet last year highlighted the dangers of pilot fatigue, a pivotal issue for the cargo crews who often fly overnight.
Documents released by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board yesterday showed that the captain had complained about an arduous nighttime schedule, while the co-pilot didn’t take full advantage of a chance to rest before their shift began. Both pilots died in a failed pre-dawn landing on Aug. 14.
The strain of toggling between a daytime lifestyle and flying after dark can dull crew members’ responses in critical situations, said Bill Waldock, who teaches accident investigation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Safety officials said the pilots of UPS Flight 1354 made errors as they tried to touch down in Birmingham, Alabama.
“We’re basically daytime animals,” Waldock said in a telephone interview from Prescott, Arizona. “We like to be awake in the daytime and sleep at night. For a lot of people, it’s hard to flip-flop that.”
UPS, the world’s biggest package-delivery company, and FedEx Corp., operator of the largest cargo airline, do much of their flying at night, when there is less competition for airspace with passenger carriers. About two-thirds of UPS’s volume moves on night flights, said Jeff Wafford, a spokesman.Pilot Shifts
Nighttime and overnight flying is more challenging because pilots probably try to maintain a normal daytime routine when they’re not on duty, said Bob Mann, a former American Airlines executive who is now president of aviation consultant R.W. Mann & Co. in Port Washington, New York.
“That’s true whether you’re a general aviation pilot or a daytime airline pilot or a nighttime cargo airline pilot,” Mann said by phone.
Cargo carriers aren’t subject to more-stringent U.S. work and rest rules that took effect Jan. 4 for pilots on passenger airlines. Atlanta-based UPS said its maximum domestic workday for pilots is 13.5 hours, within the 16-hour limit set for freight operations by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
While shift work has long been linked with safety and health risks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pilots flying irregular hours operate in an environment with far less room for error -- and much graver consequences -- than in most other occupations.Bounced Landing
NTSB investigators cited pilot fatigue in the 2009 accident on a World Airways jet flying 168 U.S. soldiers home from Iraq. The bounced landing in Baltimore destroyed the plane, and severely injured one person. Pilots also were tired on the Colgan Air turboprop that crashed near Buffalo, New York, in 2009 and killed 50 people, according to the NTSB, which stopped short of blaming fatigue for that accident.
UPS’s Flight 1354, an Airbus A300-600F, hit a hillside cloaked in darkness less than 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, breaking apart and bursting into flames at 4:47 a.m. local time.
Documents and testimony at yesterday’s hearing in Washington showed several mistakes as the pilots attempted to touch down at Runway 18, which is 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) shorter than the alternate strip. That runway also lacked an instrument-landing system that helps position planes when darkness or clouds obscure the crew’s vision.
“If you’re chronically fatigued, you’re more likely to make a mistake,” said Embry-Riddle’s Waldock. “If they were already fatigued and flying on autopilot, it might have lulled them into thinking they were a little further out.”Schedule Strain
UPS Captain Cerea Beal told a fellow pilot within a day of the crash that “the schedules are killing him and he could not keep this up,” according to records released by the NTSB.
While copilot Shanda Fanning, 37, went off duty at 6:15 a.m. the day before the accident and didn’t report to work until shortly before 9 p.m., she could have been asleep no more than 5 1/2 hours, according to an NTSB analysis of her schedule. Hotel and witness records showed she left her room for most of the day, according to the NTSB.
Beal, 58, had been off duty for seven days before reporting to work on Aug. 12, according to the records. He had called in sick on Aug. 9 at the same time he was attending a family reunion, according to the records.
“Even though the duty time seems reasonable, because it is on the back side of the clock, it is very possible to not get proper rest when you are off during the day,” said Kit Darby, who runs Kit Darby Aviation Consulting in Peachtree City, Georgia. “So you are tired no matter what.”Pilots’ Responsibility
Pilots are responsible for reporting to work rested and able to fly, Darby said.
Freight carriers are exempt from the new standards for passenger pilots, whose maximum work shifts were capped at a range of nine to 14 hours instead of 16. Passenger-airline pilots flying late at night, crossing multiple time zones or making numerous takeoffs and landings were restricted the most.
The pilots union at UPS has lobbied Congress and sued the FAA to extend the new rest rules to cargo airlines. While UPS said its analysis showed Flight 1354’s pilots would have complied with new passenger-carrier rules, the NTSB said that review didn’t take into account any previous multiday trips.
“I don’t understand, with the FAA’s stated intent that there be a single level for safety within the industry, why it only applies to the passenger side,” Mann said. “Its failure to bind the cargo industry to that goal seems out of line.”
The NTSB echoed that call yesterday, saying it has urged U.S. aviation regulators to apply the new fatigue standards to cargo operations.
“There is no reason to exempt pilots simply because they are carrying pallets rather than passengers,” NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said in a press conference after the hearing in Washington. Pilots flying in the wee hours “are even more susceptible to being fatigued.”Issues: UPS