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Swaziland: ‘TUCOSWA disguised meeting’ crushed

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 03/14/2015 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Observer
Categories: Labor News

Global: Why (some) workers have real problems with free trade agreements

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 03/14/2015 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: NY Times
Categories: Labor News

USA: VIDEO: Connect the dots: See the war on poor and working families

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 03/14/2015 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Robert Reich
Categories: Labor News

Portland ILWU Longshore union charged $60,000 for work slowdown

Current News - Fri, 03/13/2015 - 18:12

Portland ILWU Longshore union charged $60,000 for work slowdown
http://portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/253705-123457-longshore-union-charg...
Created on Friday, 13 March 2015 15:01 | Written by Jim Redden |

In the latest development in the ongoing labor-management dispute at the Port of Portland, a federal judge has ordered the International Longshore and Warehouse Union to pay nearly $60,000 for slowing down work at Terminal 6.

Tne terminal operator — ICTSI Oregon — says the order by U.S. District Judge Michael Simon shows the union is to blame for the problems at the port.

"Judge Simon ruled that ILWU leadership encouraged ILWU members to engage in unlawful work stoppages and slowdowns and directed and coordinated their actions. Judge Simon also found that, in some cases, ILWU Local 8 officers themselves directly participated in this conduct," ITCSI North American CEO Elvis J. Ganda said.

The money is to be paid to the National Labor Relations Board. It is related to a 2012 ruling by Simon.

The union says the order is nearly meaningless, however.

“It’s standard procedure when the Board prevails in court to pay market rate attorney fees for their time. The money reimbursed to the Board is based on market rates and is far above their actual expenses — so the Board and government actually profit from workers by pursuing litigation against their unions. In this case, though the Board was successful in part, it largely lost, because the Board’s pursuit of contempt charges after August of 2013 going forward was denied by the judge. The contempt finding narrowly applied only to work involving refrigerated containers, and only to a limited period of time that ended almost two years ago,” says ILWU spokesperson jennifer Sargent.

The order comes too late to prevent the largest shipping line from pulling out of the Port of Portland, however. Hanjin Shipping said it will no longer service Terminal 6, the only deep water port in Oregon, after March 9 because of the dispute. It accounted for around 80 percent of the terminal's business.

ICTSI Oregon has accused the union of continuing to slow down work at the terminal, even after the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association reached a tentative labor agreement several weeks ago. The PMA includes ICTSI Oregon.

Simon ordered the ILWU to pay the money to the National Labor Relations Board. I

KOIN News 6 contributed to this story.

Tags: ilwunlrb
Categories: Labor News

South Africa: Soap stars fight for better pay

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 03/13/2015 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Equal Times
Categories: Labor News

Australia: ITF Calls For Investigation Into Chevron for Risking Workers Lives

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 03/13/2015 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITF
Categories: Labor News

Milwaukee Teamster Retiree Speaks Out on Pension Cuts

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Fri, 03/13/2015 - 12:40

March 13, 2015: Bob Amsden, a retired Local 200 Teamster, isn’t sitting by while Central States ponders pension cuts. He got involved in forming the Wisconsin Committee to Protect Pensions and helped to organize a recent Milwaukee meeting that attracted over 60 retirees, spouses, and active Teamsters. Amsden recently spoke with a reporter from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The story ended up being a front page article

Many active and retired Teamsters don’t know of the pending benefit cuts. You can help inform the thousands that may face cuts in the coming months. Contact local newspapers and reporters. Tell them the importance of this story. Write a letter to the editor. Use the local media to help spread the news. 

Issues: Pension and Benefits
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Anti-Labor Google Gives Shuttle Drivers Wage Increases To Stop Unionization By Teamsters

Current News - Fri, 03/13/2015 - 10:53

Anti-Labor Google Gives Shuttle Drivers Wage Increases To Stop Unionization By Teamsters
http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Google-giving-bus-drivers-a-...
Google giving bus drivers a raise, but not everyone is happy
By Kristen V. BrownMarch 12, 2015 Updated: March 12, 2015 12:37pm

Teamsters Steve Bender (second from left) and Rodney Smith celebrate following the 104-38 decision to unionize tech shuttle bus drivers at Compass Transportation, Friday, Feb. 27, 2015, South San Francisco, Calif.

Google is giving the shuttle bus drivers who haul its employees to and from Mountain View a raise — but some view the news as an attempt by the tech giant to undercut efforts to unionize Silicon Valley contract workers.

On Wednesday, Google disclosed to its five shuttle bus contractors that it planned to raise drivers’ wages about 20 percent, to an average of $24 an hour, and will offer additional benefits such as a 15 percent premium for drivers who work much-maligned split shifts.

But shuttle drivers for many other Silicon Valley giants have in recent months voted to join the Teamsters union in an attempt to address complaints that drivers are overworked and unfairly compensated for time spent on the job.

“Google is the last big tech company that needed to unionize its drivers,” said Jimmy Maerina, a Facebook shuttle driver who has been a leader in the unionization efforts. “This move undermines the whole idea to unionize high-tech.”

Last fall, drivers contracted by Facebook were the first to vote to join the union.

That push for representation was expected to ricochet to other Silicon Valley service industries, such as security and food preparation.

Last month, Facebook drivers voted unanimously to approve their first union contract, which includes an increase in the average pay for workers at Facebook vendor Loop Transportation from $18 an hour to $24.50, and offered wage increases for employees who work split shifts. A week later, drivers at Apple, Yahoo, eBay, Zynga and Genentech voted to join the Teamsters, too. (The contract for Facebook workers still awaits approval from the social network and Loop. A contract has not been approved by drivers for Compass Transportation, the vendor for the other companies.)

The increase will take effect in April for Google drivers and will vary depending on the contractor and a driver’s previous wages. In addition to a premium for split shifts — unpaid breaks of up to six hours many drivers have between the morning and evening legs of the commute — the company will add health benefits to cover at least 80 percent of care for drivers and their dependents and begin matching 401(k) plans at up to $1 per hour.

“We value the drivers who help to get thousands of Googlers to work safely every day,” said a Google spokeswoman. “Since the fall we’ve been working with our vendor partners to address their concerns, by reducing the number of split shifts and increasing the hourly wages.”

This month, Apple also said it planned to raise hourly wages for drivers by about 25 percent and offer a split-shift premium. (The Teamsters must sign off on the increase for Apple's unionized shuttle bus drivers.)

“It is obvious that by Facebook drivers standing up for themselves and all the other drivers that a wave of improvements is happening,” said Rome Aloise, international vice president and secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 853.

But a wage increase is not all that’s needed, he said.

“While wages are significant, there are still many other factors that do not replace a union contract and protections.” Aloise wants drivers to receive 100 percent paid health care for drivers and their families, sick leave, paid vacations and bereavement.

Google became the first tech company to provide shuttle service for employees who live in San Francisco in 2004 — one reason the controversial tech shuttles are often referred to as Google buses, though many other companies use them.

The first buses made just two stops in the city and carried 155 passengers. Now, more than a third of Google’s Mountain View employees catch a shuttle to work. According to the city of San Francisco, tech companies have obtained 500 permits for buses participating in a pilot program allowing shuttles to use Muni bus stops.

Aloise said Google’s announcement would not stop the Teamsters from trying to unionize its drivers. But Maerina is worried it gives drivers for Google less incentive to organize — and might even encourage some drivers to leave their union-organized companies to go drive for Google, where they will receive similar wages without paying union dues of about $70 a month.

The raise, he said, might really be a bad thing disguised as a good one.

Kristen V. Brown is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: kbrown@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @kristenvbrown

Tags: Googleunion bustingDrivers
Categories: Labor News

UPS Moves Away From Loving Logistics

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Fri, 03/13/2015 - 07:43
Transport TopicsMarch 13, 2015View the original piece

UPS is abandoning the slogan "We Love Logistics" in favor of "United Problem Solvers" in a new advertising campaign to highlight its other services.

The message, according to UPS, communicates the company’s problem-solving ability for everyone from small businesses to the largest global firms.

"Our employees solve customer problems by using the best mix of proven analysis methods, innovative technologies and the company's extensive global transportation network. We not only move goods through all aspects of the supply chain, we also help our customers approach their business problems to uncover new top line and bottom line opportunities," Alan Gershenhorn, executive vice president and chief commercial officer, said in a statement.

“We're transforming UPS from a logistics provider to a full-service partner that offers world-class expertise and capabilities that help customers increase revenue, improve cash flow, minimize lead time and reduce cost," he said.

The campaign is debuting in media surrounding the NCAA basketball tournament. The company is the official logistics partner of the NCAA.

The ads will then appear in international markets including, China, Germany, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

"The new United Problem Solvers campaign illustrates how our more than 400,000 employees approach problems with expertise and intense commitment to help customers," Gershenhorn said. "Our essential message is to invite customers to challenge us with their business problems. We are confident that we can offer insights that will help them be more successful."

UPS ranks No. 1 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.

Issues: UPS
Categories: Labor News, Unions

March 18 is Transit Worker Appreciation Day!

Pittsburghers for Public Transit - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 22:01
***MEDIA ADVISORY***

Transit Worker Appreciation Day

Wednesday March 18th is National Transit Worker Appreciation Day. Pittsburghers for Public Transit (PPT) encourages riders and residents to thank our Port Authority bus and rail operators and maintenance workers for keeping us moving.

Pittsburghers for Public Transit is coordinating over a dozen volunteers to distribute thank you cards to transit riders, who can deliver them to their bus operators. We will also be distributing cards to maintenance workers. These cards say: “Because you rock, I roll,” and “Thanks for keeping us moving.”

On March 18th, cards will be available between 12 and 1 and between 3 and 5 at both of the following locations:
-Outside Wood St station downtown
-Forbes and Bigelow in Oakland.

Riders can print out their own cards at this website

We appreciate the opportunity to thank and honor the over 2,000 public transit workers in Allegheny County who get riders to our destinations safely. These workers are out 365 days a year in rain, snow, ice, and frigid temperatures, as well as our hot summers. Bus operators collect fares, help riders find their way, handle safety issues, keep to a strict route schedule, and manage their way through traffic—along the steep and winding streets of our region. Maintenance workers maintain, repair, and clean the rails, buses, busways, stations, etc.  These workers are the backbone of our transit system, and we are grateful for the work they do each day to keep Allegheny County moving.

“The drivers deal with all the traffic so that I don’t have to.” –James Keener.

“I appreciate transit workers because they drive me to all of the places I need to go safely and stress free.” –Daisha Bernal

Social media tags: #pghlovestransitworkers, #transitworkerday, #twd, #thankyoutransitworkers, #Pgh4Pubtransit

Facebook event 

Questions?

Contact: Molly Nichols
info@pittsburghforpublictransit.org
(412) 216-9659

Categories: Labor News

Australia: Friday the 13th Nightmare for Workers on Chevron’s Barrow Island

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: MUA
Categories: Labor News

Cambodia: Labour rights abuses still rife in garment factories

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Just Style
Categories: Labor News

Louisville Local 89 Picket Stops Subcontracting

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 14:42

March 12, 2015: When Teamster Local 89 investigated and found out that Holland was bringing in low-paid contractors to do city delivery work, they took creative action – and in less than one hour, YRCW management decided the contractors would leave empty.

The IBT Freight Division may want to pay attention. Holland was violating the contract, and grievances could have been filed, but quick creative action worked better. 

Local 89, led by president Fred Zuckerman, used “area standards picketing” – a legal tactic, which is not a strike, but a picket line alerting workers and the public that wages are being paid on the premises under the area standard wage.

Then Teamster members were protected from crossing the line. They were not on strike, but they had a right to respect a legal picket line.

Creativity. Bold action. Solidarity. These are some of the ingredients we need to rebuild Teamster power. Thanks, Local 89, for the lesson. 

Issues: Labor Movement
Categories: Labor News, Unions

IRB Charges former Local 439 Officers

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 12:01

March 12, 2015: The Independent Review Board (IRB) has charged the former leaders of Stockton California Local 439 with a pattern of embezzlement, fraud and receiving a motorcycle from an employer.  Former Secretary Treasurer Sam Rosas and former president Armando Alonzo were charged.

The IRB’s 117-page report, issued February 27, is available here.

Both Rosas and Alonzo were narrowly voted out of office in December, and the newly-elected officers have taken the reins of the 4500 member local. So Rosas and Alonzo no longer hold union positions.

They are charged with a long list of financial shenanigans, including causing the union to pay for numerous meals, Oakland Raiders tickets, hotel rooms, bar bills, gift cards, liquor, electronics and more when there were no union records and/or no union purpose. Many expenses involved a spouse or friends, and meals and drinks at local restaurants. Some involved a gift of money and a Hawaiian vacation for a retired business agent, at union expense. The charges detail a pattern going back at least until 2008 .

Rosas is charged with receiving an expensive motorcycle from the owner of “Stars and Stripes” at half price.  Rosas caused the union to do some $314,000 worth of business with Stars and Stripes, which provided the union with beer mugs, T-shirts and other paraphernalia.   In 2011, an election year in Local 439 and in the IBT, with Rosas backing Hoffa, the local did a huge business in T-shirts, far more than 2010 or 2012.

The charges were referred by the IRB to IBT president James Hoffa.  Rosas has been a close associate of Rome Aloise, the head the Joint Council 7 and an International vice president.  Aloise issued campaign material last October to help Rosas in his local election; it was illegally issued on Joint Council 7 stationery.

Now, it is clear that Aloise and Hoffa will drop their friend Rosas. Loyalty flows only uphill in those circles.

Issues: Local Union Reform Files E-7000_D033938.pdf
Categories: Labor News, Unions

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

IBU - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 11:58
Categories: Unions

Canadian National Railway Train Derails in Manitoba and Spills Cargo – Update

Railroaded's Blog - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 09:01

A Canadian National Railway train derailed on CN’s mainline March 11 near Gregg, about 50 km east of Brandon, Manitoba. 13 cars carrying refinery cracking stock, a type of bitumen, fell off the tracks and one of the tank cars spilled about 30,000 litres. An emergency plan was activated, and crews are working with Manitoba environment officials to clean up the spilled product (CBC News). An emergency action notice has been issued to CN to ensure the material is disposed of appropriately (Winnipeg Free Press).

This derailment follows several other major derailments of CN oil trains in northern Ontario that involved crude oil spills, fires and damages to the environment.

Read CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents for more information on many other CN derailments in Canada and the United States.


Filed under: Derailment, shipping oil by rail
Categories: Labor News

Another shutdown at Port of Oakland

Current News - Wed, 03/11/2015 - 19:26

Another shutdown at Port of Oakland
http://blog.sfgate.com/techchron/2015/03/11/another-shutdown-at-port-of-...
By Thomas Lee on March 11, 2015 1:02 PM

Despite a tentative labor agreement to end a dispute that brought chaos to West Coast ports, the international container terminal at the Port of Oakland once again shut down Wednesday, a port official confirmed to The Chronicle.

Photo By SFC/Michael Macor
Cargo ships filled with containers are lined up along the docks at the Port of Oakland after a pact with the Longshoreman’s Union has been reached, as seen in Oakland, Calif. on Sat. Feb. 21, 2015. (SFC/Michael Macor)
The official reason behind the closure was a “staffing dispute” between workers and port operators, said Port of Oakland communications director Mike Zampa. He did not offer further details.

The closure impacted the staging and gate areas at the facility, where truck drivers drop off and pick up cargo from container ships.

Last month, under pressure from U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez, negotiators from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association in San Francisco reached a tentative deal on a new five year contract.

The nine-month dispute between the union and the association snarled traffic at major ports like Long Beach, Seattle, San Diego and Oakland due to similar “staffing disputes,” prompting business leaders and politicians to complain to the White House and Congress.

In response, President Obama dispatched Perez to help the two sides reach an agreement and end an embarrassing spat that threatened to slow America’s economic recovery.

Despite the settlement, the union offered no firm timetable for its members to ratify the contract. Union delegates will meet March 30 to April 3 to review the proposal and then decide whether or not recommend workers approve it.

Even if workers sign off on the contract, analysts say ports will still face a tough time clearing the log jam.

“Delays and uncertainty will continue to plague the ports in the short term and when the current deal expires,” according to market research firm IBISWorld. “Goods will continue to sit on docks or ships for prolonged periods. Shippers with time-sensitive cargo, including perishable items, will incur the highest costs from persistent holdups.”

Tags: ilwuPort Oakland
Categories: Labor News

IWW Montreal Occupies Quebec's Minister of Family and Seniors' office building

IWW - Wed, 03/11/2015 - 16:26

On Monday, March 9th, the Industrial Worker of the World Union - Montreal (IWW / SITT), as well as several citizens, occupied Quebec's Minister of Family and Seniors' office building. This action is part of the movement against austerity measures and in our campaign for a social strike on May 1, 2015.

Today, many workers are directly confronted with the effects of budget cuts to health services, to municipal employees, to firemen and firewomen, to postal workers, to students, to workers in the private sector... Yet, resistance is organizing itself everywhere. We will not let different governments (whether conservative or liberal) and the bosses impose their anti-social measures on us. The time of a minority enriching itself on the back of an impoverished majority is finished.against austerity measures and in our campaign for a social strike on May 1, 2015.

read more

Categories: Unions

Panamanian longshore workers join the ILWU

Current News - Wed, 03/11/2015 - 12:58

Panamanian longshore workers join the ILWU
http://www.ilwu.org/panamanian-longshore-workers-join-the-ilwu/
• MARCH 3, 2015 4:27 PM

Building solidarity: ILWU President Bob McEllrath led a solidarity delegation to Panama in September 2011, part of an ongoing effort to support maritime workers there. Dockworkers in this photo have since changed their union’s name to SINTRAPORSPA, affiliated with the ILWU Panama Canal Division and won a fouryear
contract in December that will improve pay and working conditions at Panama Ports – a subsidiary of the powerful Hong Kong-based Hutchinson Port Holdings.
Panama City, Panama – You see a lot of parked taxis in the parking lot at the Panama Ports terminal here. They’re not waiting to give rides to longshoremen. Dockworkers themselves are the drivers.

Longshore wages in Panama are so low that after a shift driving a crane, a longshoreman has to put in another shift driving a taxi, just to survive.

At Panama Ports, however, this situation has begun to change. In December the union signed an historic new contract with raises totaling more than 27% over the next four years.

One factor that made this agreement possible was support from the ILWU International Union. Because of it the Panamanian union SINTRAPORSPA, the Union of Workers at Panama Ports has decided to become the newest member of the ILWU’s Panama Canal Division. “Because we affiliated with the ILWU, things have changed,” says Alberto Ochoa, SINTRAPORSPA’s Secretary General. “Now our relationship with the company is more equal. We have greater strength at work, and our contract shows it.”

The Panama Canal Pilots, ILWU International President Bob McEllrath and Vice-President Ray Familathe began coordinating the latest affiliation agreement with Panama’s longshore workers belonging to SINTRAPORSPA.

ILWU President Bob McEllrath collaborated closely with Familathe to implement their vision of growing the Panama Division. McEllrath and Familathe traveled to Panama with fluent Spanish- speaker Greg Mitre, President of the Southern California Pensioners’ Group, to build union-to-union relationships.

“Our union is committed to defending the rights of all workers, and the Panama Division is the result of that commitment,” McEllrath says Panama Division growth

When the Panama Division was established in 2012, ILWU President Bob McEllrath explained, “With so many employers now going global, it’s critical for workers around the globe to join forces and work together.”

The division has now grown much larger, to include 2580 Panama Ports longshore workers. The symbol of the ILWU has also been updated. It used to be a map of North America with a picture of Hawaii, showing the union’s strength in U.S. and Canadian ports and in the islands. The symbol now includes a new element – a map of Panama.

According to Capt. Rainiero Salas, the Panama Canal Pilots’ Union secretary general, “The Panama Division is growing as workers see what we can gain by working together, and it’s not going to stop here.”

The new Panama Ports longshore contract didn’t come easily. Panama Ports is a subsidiary of the Hong Kong-based corporation Hutchinson Port Holdings Limited (HPH).

There was a “yellow” or company union at the terminal there for many years. Ochoa and other independent minded workers had a long history of trying to change it. Finally they organized SINTRAPORSPA. They collected over 2000 signatures on a petition for recognition, and asked for a government-administered election to certify the union as workers’ bargaining representative.

Dockworkers knew how many votes they had lined up, and challenged the transparency of the election. The Ministry of Labor claimed that 1500 workers had cast ballots against SINTRAPORSPA. The President of Panama himself, Juan Carlos Varela, is a partner in the law firm used by Panama Ports, that specializes in helping company management fight unions.

“When we went to the ministry to protest the crooked election, they did everything they could to stop us,” recalls Ramiro Cortez, another SINTRAPORSPA leader. “Nevertheless, it was obvious that we had the support of the great majority of the workers, including those who belonged to the company union.”

Ochoa and Cortez made an appeal to the ILWU, and Familathe and Mitre flew to Panama City and met with the Minister of Labor, Luis Ernesto Carles Rudy. They brought with them a letter signed by six U.S. Congress members, asking for a transparent process.

The government agreed to rerun the election, and in a fair vote SINTRAPORSPA won overwhelmingly. “The support from the ILWU was very effective in meeting with the Minister of Labor, and getting the second union election,” Cortez says. “The Panamanian authorities were never concerned about how they conducted themselves with us before that. Powerful companies, with the money at their disposal, got whatever that money could buy.”

The impact of that support was also felt in the subsequent contract negotiations, which only took a month to reach an agreement. In one meeting the company executive president even told union negotiators that he was “very concerned” at the union’s growing relationship with the ILWU. The contract itself is now the first agreement between an ILWU affiliate and Panama Ports a subsidiary of Hutchinson Port Holdings.

Danger & low pay

That agreement will have a big impact on the lives of longshoremen and their families in two areas especially – economics and safety. In Panama they call longshore pay “hunger wages.” Workers’ families live below the government’s own poverty line, and some families literally go hungry.

“That’s one reason why the company had to constantly hire new workers,” Cortez says. “Most people who got jobs here were just working while they were actually looking for better jobs somewhere else.” An agreement that raises wages therefore helps to stabilize the workforce, which can make the terminal more productive.

It also impacts safety. “Many accidents in the port could have been avoided if the workers weren’t so exhausted,” he explains. “They go in at 7AM, and leave at 8PM, and then go and drive or do some other job.”

The port does have a high accident rate, and two workers were killed a month apart at the end of last year. But the contract is also changing how safety issues are handled. In one accident, a crane lifting a container hit a six-high stack of boxes that were being stored on the dock, right next to the ship. As they fell, one hit a 22-year-old man who’d been working less than a month.

Cortez was called by the workers, and on arrival met with the crane operator who was in shock and crying, and stopped managers from interrogating him until he got representation and counseling. Then Cortez and other union leaders met with management and viewed the video of the accident. They told the company that all workers were traumatized by what happened, and should be sent home. If not, the union itself would shut down the terminal, they said. In the end, management sent the shift home with pay for the day.

When Cortez announced the agreement to the workers, they applauded. “I could have been elected president of the republic that day,” he says. “It had never happened before.”

When Familathe and Mitre explained how similar events are handled in Los Angeles, Cortez said he wanted to come and see for himself. The new union contract establishes five committees, the most important of which is safety. The union then created three new positions, and appointed a high-voltage technician to serve as secretary of the safety committee.

“The challenge is now to implement the contract and ensure that the company abides by it, so that the workers actually benefit from it,” President Ochoa emphasizes. “Before the company did what it pleased, and changed the hours, overtime, days off, and wages, whenever it wanted. Now they know we’re not on our own, by ourselves.

They didn’t look on our relationship with the ILWU with friendly eyes, because they knew you would back us up. Companies don’t want real unions because we open the eyes of the workers, and we can win respect.”

Opportunities to grow

Ochoa has another vision as well – that the Panama Division will expand. “Unions in the ports and the Canal should get together so that we can speak with one voice, and get better benefits and respect for the workers,” he says. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to realize this dream.”

It may not be so far off. The same day Familathe and Mitre concluded the affiliation process for SINTRAPORSPA they also drove across the isthmus to meet with the union for dockers in Colon on the Atlantic, the Union of Workers at the Manzanillo International Terminal. The MIT terminal is operated by SSA Marine.

Workers told the ILWU leaders that crane operators work 8-hour days, for six days straight. For that, their pay starts at $854 a month. Here also the workers rebelled against a former union leadership they viewed as too close to the company, and elected a new slate a few months ago. “They see the improvements SINTRAPORSPA was able to make, and they want the same thing,” said Familathe.

Goals for the future

The ILWU in Panama represents the interests of workers by advocating progressive policies on wages, trade and labor rights, while effectively defending workers on the job every day. The Panama Division is supporting pilots in their fight to ensure that the huge ships that pass through the Canal every day are operated safely.

The Canal Authority has launched a huge expansion project, building new locks capable of handling giant post- Panamax container ships carrying up to 13,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU). The pilots union has criticized the government for not working closely with the union in designing the work rules and procedures for safely handling these larger ships in the new locks. It is especially concerned over a new unilateral government directive that for the first time seeks to have ships pass each other in the narrow, but widened, Culebra Cut. Previously, ships traveling in opposite directions have waited, so that only one ship at a time traverses the cut.

In October Capt. Salas spoke out publicly. “It seems very odd that the most experienced people moving ships through this highly important system have been completely ignored by its governing authority,” he charged.

“At Panama Canal Pilots (PCP), our most critical mission is ship safety, yet we’ve not been consulted.” Panamanian port and maritime unions are also concerned at the government’s efforts to decertify the union for the tugboat captains in the canal. They fear that the same legal technicalities could be used to attack the representation rights of other unions as well. That could undermine longshore unions just as they are at the point where they are changing the basic living standards of workers.

“Our main objective as a union was to make a difference in the economic status of our members, especially those who earned least, the longshoremen,”

Ochoa declares. “I’m not saying that what we’ve been able to achieve in this new contract will give us a wage that will pay for everything. But it’s a lot better than what we had before. And our responsibility as a union is to keep struggling to win better conditions, especially economic ones.”

– David Bacon

Tags: Panama longshoremenilwu
Categories: Labor News

West Virginia Rallies against 'Right to Work'

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 03/11/2015 - 11:21
Alexandra BradburyLabor NotesMarch 11, 2015View the original piece

Four thousand union activists rallied in Charleston, West Virginia, March 7 against “right to work.” (Click here to see more photos from the rally.)

Local and national labor leaders also spoke against other threats on the agenda of the state’s Republican-controlled legislature: charter schools, mine safety rollbacks, and changes to the prevailing-wage law.

Click here to read more at Labor Notes.

 

Issues: Labor Movement
Categories: Labor News, Unions

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