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Global: New Survey: Half of G20 policies rated as ineffective

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 11/16/2014 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

Cambodia: Global unions dismiss Cambodian 128 USD wage as inadequate

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 11/16/2014 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL Global Union
Categories: Labor News

California Port Gridlock: Labor Disputes May End Up Costing Billions

Current News - Sat, 11/15/2014 - 22:33

California Port Gridlock: Labor Disputes May End Up Costing Billions
http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/17366/california_port_gridlock_con...
FRIDAY, NOV 14, 2014, 4:41 PM
California Port Gridlock: Labor Disputes May End Up Costing Billions
BY ALEX LUBBEN

Longshore workers and truckers in California operate at key nodes of the American economy, able to prevent billions of dollars worth of goods from reaching stores throughout the country. (Lance Cunningham / Flickr)

West Coast ports are stuck in gridlock. Earlier this week, truck drivers were waiting for as long as seven hours at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to try to retrieve single containers of cargo. The backup at these ports, which handle the majority of shipments from Asia, is threatening the timely delivery of billions of dollars’ worth of holiday goods.

The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents the docking companies at ports along the West Coast, blamed the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) for the initial slowdown, accusing the union of refusing to dispatch skilled workers at the ports, creating backups that are part of an attempt to gain leverage in contract negotiations. The union—whose workers have been without a contract since July—has denied that they are intentionally clogging the port’s flow of goods.

The “orchestrated job actions,” as PMA refers to the alleged slowdown, began at ports in the Pacific Northwest and has since spread to the Los Angeles-Long Beach (LA-LB) ports. PMA claims that the ILWU informed them that they would stop dispatching qualified workers.

ILWU denied this in a press release issued on November 10:

Obscuring months of data regarding the non-labor related causes of the current crisis-level congestion problem, PMA’s Texas-based public relations firm announced that the ILWU was the cause bringing “the port complex to the brink of gridlock.” The public relations firm also propagandized about the ILWU, its leadership, and false claims of safety issues.

They contended that the delays are due instead to an exodus of truck drivers from their industry because trucking companies refuse to pay a living wage, record retail import volumes and larger vessels discharging enormous amounts of cargo. That concern was echoed by truck drivers, who walked off the job earlier this week as well. They’ve struck multiple times this year, complaining of what they say is improper classification as independent contractors and low wages. While it isn’t yet clear whether the drivers’ strike is significantly impacting the flow of goods from the port, if longshore workers choose to join the truckers, the ports would likely be thrown into total chaos.

A coalition of retailers, wholesalers, farmers and manufactures from the National Retail Federation (NRF) issued a letter to President Obama asking for federal mediation in the longshore workers’ contract negotiations. Even before the truckers’ strike, the coalition feared the consequences of the worker unrest:

The threat of a West Coast port shutdown is creating high levels of uncertainty in a fragile economic climate which has forced many businesses to once again undertake contingency plans that come at a significant cost to jobs and our economic competitiveness.

A report by the NRF estimates that a total stoppage could cost the economy as much as $2 billion a day.

ALEX LUBBEN
Alex Lubben is Deputy Publisher of In These Times.

Tags: ILWU Coast Contract
Categories: Labor News

Ecuador: Massive Rally Commemorates Killing of 1500 Workers

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 11/15/2014 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: teleSUR
Categories: Labor News

Global: G20 action plan will drive down living standards, warn unions

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 11/15/2014 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ACTU
Categories: Labor News

Global: Labour 20 warn gaps in G20 agenda risk jobs

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 11/15/2014 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ACTU
Categories: Labor News

Israeli shipping giant Zim suspends operations in Long Beach

Current News - Sat, 11/15/2014 - 06:40

Israeli shipping giant Zim suspends operations in Long Beach
http://www.jewishjournal.com/california/article/israeli_shipping_giant_z...
by Jared Sichel
Zim shipping containers. Illustrative photo by Yaakov Naumi/Flash90
Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd., Israel’s largest cargo shipping company, has temporarily suspended operations at the Port of Long Beach, according to an employee in Zim’s Long Beach office.
Though the company has not offered a reason, the decision comes after protests in Long Beach and Oakland by the anti-Israel protest group, Block the Boat, which formed in August and is aligned with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Block the Boat protestors, who felt motivated to organize during this summer’s war in Gaza, have repeatedly made it difficult for Zim to unload its cargo at the ports of Long Beach and Oakland during scheduled unloading days for the past three months.
A Zim employee in Long Beach, who answered a phone call to the office but would not give his name, said that the suspension is “not a long-term thing.” He did not say whether it was the protests that prompted Zim’s decision.
A statement from a company spokesman sent to the Journal did not directly address the issue in Long Beach, stating Zim “never stopped and will continue to serve its loyal customers in the U.S. West Coast.” The spokesman has not yet responded to a follow-up request for clarification.
Art Wong, a spokesman for the Port of Long Beach, confirmed that Zim suspended operations at the port, but added that he was not given a reason. He said that in recent months, protestors often would come to the dock on Saturday mornings in anticipation of an arriving Zim shipment — the locations of cargo vessels are easily tracked on the Internet — only to find that the Zim vessel that was en route had changed course at the last minute.
“I could never tell if it impacted the unloading of the vessels,” Wong said. “The protesters would come, but the ship wouldn’t even be there.”
He said shipping companies frequently change their ports of call at the last moment, without offering reasons.
In Oakland, where Block the Boat protestors also have been active, Michael Zampa, a spokesman for the Port of Oakland, wrote in an email, “As far as I know, Zim has no plans for leaving the Port of Oakland.” Asked whether he knows about any temporary suspension of operations at the Port of Oakland, Zampa recommended reaching out to a Zim spokesperson.
Container Management, a shipping industry publication, quoted Lara Kiswani, executive director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), as saying, “That the Zim vessel can no longer come to Oakland or Long Beach is one of the biggest wins for Palestinian solidarity in the Bay Area in recent history.” In the same piece, Robert Bernardo, another Port of Oakland spokesman, said that the suspension could lead to lost wages for dockworkers and truckers who only work if there is cargo to unload.
AROC, located in San Francisco, has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Tags: ZimIsraelLong Beach
Categories: Labor News

Tunisia: Attempted Assault Of UGTT Secretary General Houcine Abassi

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 11/14/2014 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Tunisia Live
Categories: Labor News

Turkey: New Turkish law deals blow to unions

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 11/14/2014 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Al-Monitor
Categories: Labor News

USA: How Walmart Destroyed U.S. Manufacturing

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 11/14/2014 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: AFL-CIO
Categories: Labor News

Louisville UPS pilots taking complaints to company's investors

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Fri, 11/14/2014 - 09:50
Gil CorseyWDRB.comNovember 14, 2014View the original piece

Louisville UPS pilots are taking their complaints to the company's investors. 

The company's pilots placed a full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal Thursday, pushing for a new contract.

Click here to read more at WDRB.com

Issues: UPS
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Italy: Country gripped by strikes against reform plans

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Local
Categories: Labor News

South Africa: Probe Into Killing of 34 Miners Draws to Close After 2 Years

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Bloomberg
Categories: Labor News

Global: Labour demands action from G20 leaders

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Radio Labour
Categories: Labor News

Palestine: Top labor union officials released from Palestinian jail after a week in detention

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Ma'an News Agency
Categories: Labor News

USA: Trumka: Labor Prepared to Combat Assaults on Workers' Rights

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: AFL-CIO
Categories: Labor News

Global: Anger as workers shut out of G20 talks

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: This Working Life
Categories: Labor News

Teamster Power in a Global Economy

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 12:38

November 13, 2014: UPS is growing fast internationally and so is the middle class. How do we build union power in a global economy?

UPS’s business is driven by middle-class consumers sending packages and buying products online.

While UPS’s middle-class customer base is expected to grow rapidly through 2030, only a small amount of growth will come from the US.

Most of the growth in the global middle class is expected in Asia, especially China, and India.

Teamsters are still the engine of UPS’s revenue and profits. We’ve generated 61% of UPS’s revenue so far this year—and UPS Freight Teamsters piled more revenue on top of that.

Teamsters will continue to be central to the company’s operations and profits—but UPS has a long-term plan and we need one too in a global economy. We’ve got to build global union ties and global labor solidarity for union power in the long run. 

UPS has a long-term plan. Our union needs one too. The time to start is now.

Issues: UPS
Categories: Labor News, Unions

New York Harbor Tug Boat Captains and Crews, Staten Island Ferry Workers, Circle Line and Other Tourist Boat Crews Vote to Join New Union

Current News - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 11:58

New York Harbor Tug Boat Captains and Crews, Staten Island Ferry Workers, Circle Line and Other Tourist Boat Crews Vote to Join New Union
Contact: Jamie Horwitz

202/549-4921

jhdcpr@starpower.net

For Immediate Release November 13, 2014

New York Harbor Tug Boat Captains and Crews, Staten Island Ferry Workers, Circle Line and Other Tourist Boat Crews Vote to Join New Union

Affiliation with International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots brings added clout, resources and training to New York Harbor mariners and boosts the membership ranks of deck officers’ union.

LINTHICUM HEIGHTS, MD – New York-area watermen who operate tugboats, dredges, tourist boats and ferries, members of Staten Island-based Local 333, have voted by an overwhelming margin to support a merger between Local 333 and the Maryland-based International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots. By a more than 2 to 1 margin, 1,300 New York and New Jersey mariners voted to affiliate with the larger national union of deck officers who serve on ocean-going ships, and which also represents captains and crews on inland waterways beyond New York Harbor. The election was conducted by mail ballot. Voting concluded yesterday. The final tally was 423 “yes” votes for affiliation, 182 “no” votes and 6 votes were judged invalid.

Don Marcus, President of the Masters, Mates & Pilots said, “This is a great day for the Masters, Mates & Pilots. We are grateful for the confidence that the membership of Local 333 has placed in our union. Now that the ballots have been cast, we can join forces to build better working conditions for mariners in New York Harbor and all along the Atlantic Seaboard. ”

The International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots represents deck officers who serve on U.S.-flagged ships that sail across the globe delivering goods, including military cargo and American food aid.

The union also represents workers at ferry services similar to the Staten Island Ferry in Washington State and Alaska as well as on boats involved in the tourist trade, tugboats, dredges and other vessels that work in inland waters. Harbor pilots in ports across the nation, including those who guide large ships through New York Harbor, are also members of the national union.

“While we represent many ship’s officers and harbor pilots who live in the greater metropolitan New York area and who navigate large commercial vessels in and out of the Port of New York and New Jersey every day, we haven’t had much of a presence aboard smaller vessels working the harbor and the coastal waters of the Northeast for many years,” said Marcus.

Pilots and sea captains outraged over the treatment of Captain Charles P. Smith founded the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots, one of the country’s oldest unions, in New York in 1887. The captain, who heroically saved his passengers and crew after a boiler exploded on his paddle-wheel steamer, the Seawanhaka, in the New York’s East River, was made a scapegoat by local politicians. Smith eventually was cleared of any wrongdoing and today, 127 years later, the Masters, Mates & Pilots represents 4,600 captains, deck officers, pilots and other maritime professionals who serve on U.S.-flagged vessels.

Local 333 was founded in 1935 to represent maritime workers in the New York area and elsewhere in the Northeast.

Affiliation with the Masters, Mates & Pilots will give New York and New Jersey mariners access to the union’s resources, including its credit union, legal services, lobbying support and state-of-the-art training facility in Linthicum, Maryland. They also will be eligible for job openings on inland waters in other regions of the country.

For more information on the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots, please visit www.bridgedeck.org

Tags: MMPILATugboats Union
Categories: Labor News

Recyclers score two victories with support from ILWU & community

ILWU - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 11:34

During the final days of October, two groups of Northern California recycling workers decided that they would no longer tolerate indignities and discrimination from their employers. One group voted overwhelmingly to join the ILWU. Another group – already members of ILWU Local 6 – walked off their jobs for a week-long strike.

Striking for respect

“They think we’re insignificant people,” declared striker Dinora Jordan on the picket line. “They don’t think we count and don’t value our work. But we’re the ones who find dead animals on the conveyor belts. All the time we have to watch for hypodermic needles. If they don’t learn to respect us now, they never will.”

Big profits at WM

Jordan’s employer is Waste Management of Alameda County whose parent, Waste Management, Inc. (WM), is a giant corporation that handles garbage and recycling throughout North America. In just the second quarter of 2014, WM generated $3.56 billion in revenue and $210 million in profit, “an improvement in both our net cash provided by operations and our free cash flow,” according to CEO David P. Steiner.

Millions for the CEO

Shareholders received a 35 cent per share quarterly dividend, and the company used $600 million of its cash in a massive share buyback program. Two years ago, Steiner was given 135,509 shares (worth $6.5 million) for a performance bonus.

Years with no contract

But at WM’s facility in San Leandro, California, the company was unwilling to reach a fair contract with Local 6 for three years.

On October 23, members of the union Negotiating Committee returned to the facility after another fruitless session. They called workers, including Jordan, together to offer a report on the progress in bargaining, a standard practice for the recyclers at Local 6.

Sparking the strike

One supervisor agreed to the shop floor meeting, but another would not. The workers met anyway. Then the second supervisor told the vast majority of workers that they were being disciplined and to clockout, go home, and lose pay for the rest of the day. The same supervisor allowed a few hand-picked workers to remain on the job in order to run the facility.

“That’s when we finally said ‘Enough!’” Jordan explains. “As a union, we support each other. If some of us can’t work, then none of us will.”

Workers decided to walk out together, and immediately met at the union hall where 98% voted to strike WM in a spirited action that continued for a week.

“By standing together on the picket line, these courageous workers showed all of us how to win with solidarity– even when some officials from other unions seemed more comfortable standing with management. The kind of unity and determination shown by recyclers is exactly what it takes to win against powerful employers in Alameda County – and all along the West Coast.”

–ILWU International President Bob McEllrath

Another vote nearby

At another facility in the same city, workers at Alameda County Industries (ACI) were equally angry. At the end of a late night vote count in a cavernous sorting bay, surrounded by bales of recycled paper and plastic, agents of the National Labor Relations Board unfolded the ballots in a union representation election.

Workers want ILWU

When they announced that 83 percent had been cast for Local 6, workers began shouting “¡Viva La Union!” and dancing down along a row of lockers.

Dirty & dangerous

Sorting trash is dangerous and dirty work. In 2012, two East Bay workers were killed in recycling facilities. With some notable exceptions, putting your hands into fast moving conveyor belts filled with cardboard and cans does not pay well – much less, for instance, than the jobs of the drivers who pick up the containers at the curb. And in the Bay Area, sorting recyclables is done largely by workers of color – many of whom are women – mostly immigrants from Mexico and Central America and African Americans.

Workers rise-up

This spring, recycling workers at Alameda County Industries began challenging their second-class status, poor working conditions and “permatemp” status. Not only did they become activists in a growing movement throughout the East Bay, but their protests galvanized public action to stop the firings of undocumented workers.

Private contractors

Garbage trucks driven by Teamsters carrying recycled trash arrive every minute at the ACI facility, dumping their fragrant loads gathered on routes in Livermore, Alameda, Dublin and San Leandro. These cities contract with the private firm to process their recyclables. In the Bay Area, only one city, Berkeley, picks up its own garbage.

All the rest hold contracts with private companies; even Berkeley contracts recycling to an independent sorter.

Perma-temps

But ACI went even further by using a temp agency, Select Staffing, to employ workers for their recycling operation. The outsourcing scheme left workers with fewer rights on the job, no health insurance, retirement, vacations or holidays. Wages are also very low. Even after a raise two years ago, sorters are paid only $9.00 per hour with no benefits except for a few days off each year.

Illegal wages

Last year, workers discovered that their wages were illegally low. San Leandro passed a Living Wage Ordinance in 2007, mandating pay (in 2014) of $14.57 per hour or $13.07 with health benefits. Last fall, some of the workers on the lines received leaflets advertising a health and safety training for recycling workers put on by Local 6. They decided to attend in order to protect themselves from hazards at work.

The union’s organizing director Agustin Ramirez says, “When they told me what they were paid, I knew something was very wrong.”

Ramirez put them in touch with a lawyer, who sent ACI and Select a letter stating workers’ intention to file suit for back wages. In early February, 18 workers, including every person but one who’d signed, were told that Select had been audited by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) a year before. ICE, the company said, was questioning their immigration status.

Fighting back

Instead of quietly disappearing, though, about half the sorters walked off the lines on February 27, protesting the impending firings. They were joined by faith leaders, members of Alameda County United for Immigrant Rights, and workers from other recycling facilities, including WM. The next week, however, all eighteen accused of being undocumented were fired.

“Some of us have been there 14 years, so why now?” wondered sorter Ignacia Garcia. Despite fear ignited by the firings and the so-called “silent” immigration raid, workers began to join the union.

Within months, workers were wearing buttons and stickers up and down the sorting lines. At the same time, sorters went met with city council members, denouncing the raid and illegal wages, asking councilmembers to put pressure on the company processing their recyclables.

Organizing brings change

By the time Local 6 asked for the election, ACI had stopped campaigning against the union, likely out of a fear of alienating its city clients, and had ended its relationship with the temp agency. The class-action lawsuit filed by workers was also settled for $1.2 million.

When the Labor Board counted ballots from ACI workers on October 21, only one voted for no union while 49 cast ballots for the ILWU. A campaign by the Teamsters, who had secured a spot on the ballot, fell short with only 9 votes; probably because Teamsters Local 70 has represented ACI driver for decades, but was unable or unwilling to help recycling workers during that time.

Seeking help at city hall

Because cities award contracts for recycling services, they indirectly control how much money is available for workers’ wages. That’s taken the fight for more money and better conditions into city halls throughout the East Bay.

Waste Management has the Oakland city garbage contract, and garbage truck drivers have been Teamster members for decades. When WM took over Oakland’s recycling contract in 1991, however, it signed an agreement with ILWU Local 6. Workers had voted for Local 6 on the recycling lines, at the big garbage dump in the Altamont Pass and even among the clerical workers in the company office.

Retaliation

At WM, workers also faced immigration raids. In 1998, sorters at its San Leandro facility staged a wildcat work stoppage over safety issues, occupying the company’s lunchroom.

Three weeks later, immigration agents showed up, audited company records and eventually deported eight of them. And last year, three more workers were fired at WM, accused of not having legal immigration status.

ILWU solidarity

When Teamster drivers were locked out of WM in 2007 for more than a month over company demands for concessions, Local 6 members respected their lines and didn’t work. That was not reciprocated, however, when recyclers staged their walkouts over firings last year. Last week the Teamsters told drivers to cross Local 6 lines again. One unidentified Teamster officer told journalist Darwin Bond-Graham that Local 6 had not asked for strike sanction.

“Our members can’t just stop working,” he said.

In fact, Local 6 officers immediately sought sanction from the Teamster Joint Council but the request was ignored during the week-long strike. And instead of solidarity, Teamster officials directed members to drive through the recyclers’ picket lines.

Despite the hostility and indifference from Teamster officials, most drivers expressed support for the recyclers – along with regrets that their union officials had failed to respond with solidarity.

A number of drivers said they were planning to call-in sick instead of breaking the strike, and another larger group of drivers took up a collection that bought lunch for all the strikers.

An impressive gesture of solidarity also came from officials at SEIU Local 1021, who arrived at the picket line, rallied with strikers, provided lunch for everyone and pledged to provide additional resources.

Under the contract that expired three years ago, WM sorters got $12.50—more than ACI, but a long way from San Francisco and San Jose, where Teamster recyclers get $21 an hour. To get wages up, recycling workers in the East Bay organized a coalition to establish a new standard; the Campaign for Sustainable Recycling.

Community support

Two dozen organizations have joined the campaign in addition to the ILWU, including the Sierra Club, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Movement Generation, the Justice and Ecology Project, the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy and the Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy (FAME). FAME leaders visited picket lines and held prayer sessions with workers during the strike.

San Francisco, where recyclers earn $21 per hour, is charging customers $34 per month for garbage and recycling service. East Bay companies are paying recyclers half that wage – while East Bay ratepayers still pay almost as much each month for their services.

A new pattern & standard

Fremont became the first test for the campaign’s strategy of encouraging cities to mandate wage increases for recyclers. Last December, the Fremont City Council passed a rate increase of one penny per day per household – with the condition that its recycler, BLT, agree to raises for workers. The union contract with BLT now mandates a wage of $14.59 per hour, rising to $20.94 in 2019 – plus affordable family health benefits.

Oakland then followed suit, requiring wage increases for sorters as part of its new residential recycling and garbage franchise agreements.

Those 10-20 year agreements were both originally going entirely to California Waste Solutions, but after WM threatened a suit and a ballot initiative, it recovered the garbage contract, which also includes some commercial recycling services.

The new Local 6 contract for WM recyclers, which ended the strike yesterday, follows the same pattern and was approved last summer by the Oakland City Council which required the recycling wage and benefit standard to be included in the City’s 2015 franchise agreement. The new ILWU/WM contract will provide workers with a signing bonus of $500 to $1,500, depending on seniority, to provide some retroactive compensation for working three years under an old contract with no raises All workers will get an immediate raise of $1.48 per hour, and another 50 cents on New Year’s.

Starting next July, wages will rise $1.39 per year until 2019, when the minimum wage for sorters will be $20.94. The strikers at WM ratified their new agreement by a 95% margin.

But the strike was about much more than money and benefits. It was initiated and led by recycling workers determined to push back against what they felt was second-class treatment by an arrogant company that used to take them for granted. They gained new confidence, developed new leadership and made important solidarity connections during their week. Despite the hardships and challenges that began each morning at 3:30 a.m., workers from ‑Alameda County Industries would come by to join the picket lines after their shift ended, offering help and support for the Waste Management strikers.

ILWU International President Bob McEllrath praised the recycling workers for their leadership and determination.

“By standing together on the picket line, these courageous workers showed all of us how to win with solidarity– even when some officials from other unions seemed more comfortable standing with management. The kind of unity and determination shown by recyclers is exactly what it takes to win against powerful employers in Alameda County – and all along the West Coast.”

Next up: ACI workers

Now that three Alameda County companies have agreed to provide the better wages and affordable health benefits defined by the Alameda County Recycling Worker Standard, the torch is being passed to workers at ACI so they can enjoy the same improvements. After WM workers voted by 95% to end their strike on the evening of October 30, and before adjourning to celebrate, they pledged to support the upcoming struggle by ACI workers for a similar contract that will include the Alameda County Recycling Worker Standard.

“We won our fight for fair raises and benefits, and now it’s our turn to help the workers at ACI win their fight” said recycler Maria Sanchez.

Categories: Unions

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