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USA: 8 things you should know about the US Supreme Court case: Janus vs AFSCME

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 03/05/2018 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: PSI
Categories: Labor News

Felixstowe Dockers To keep Felixstowe Dockers and other Dockers around the world informed as to what is going on around us all.

Current News - Sun, 03/04/2018 - 18:31

Felixstowe Dockers To keep Felixstowe Dockers and other Dockers around the world informed as to what is going on around us all.

https://felixstowedocker.blogspot.com/2018/03/norwegian-dockers-need-fin...

SATURDAY, 3 MARCH 2018
Norwegian Dockers Need Finacial Help

Posting on behalf of Svein Lundeng & Dockers Hangarounds

Cash in support of the port workers is immediately empty
The Port Worker hopes for help to support the last port workers until the summer.

When the Transport Workers Association stopped paying the strike allowance to the harbor workers in Tromsø and Mosjøen about a year ago, almost 30 port workers stood without any kind of income or unemployment insurance. It was the start of a massive fundraising campaign both inside and outside the trade union movement.

A total of around NOK 3.6 million was collected.
Needs 600,000 kroner

There are still 12-13 port workers in the two cities that have not got a job and have so far received around 17,000 kroner each month from the collective action.

According to the chairman of the Norwegian Harbor Workers' Association, Bjørn Steffensen, it is now only 40,000 kroner left, so unless there is more money for the collection action, it will be just over 3000 kroner to each of the port workers as a final payment next month.

"This means we must try to ask for solidarity in the trade union movement, to individuals, clubs, associations, trade unions and others so that we can get money to support them at least until summer," says Steffensen.

He estimates that there will be a need of 600,000-700,000 kroner to get it done.

"The money should preferably come quickly. Port workers are still doing a bad month, but two get hard, he says.
Their own company

When the sympathy conflict in Tromsø and Mosjøen began in December 2013 in connection with the fight for a collective agreement at Risavika Terminal AS outside Stavanger, there were 14 port workers in Tromsø and 17 in Mosjøen. Today, the situation is quite different.

"From next month, only one of the harbor workers in Tromsø, who has not got another job. In Mosjøen there are eleven left. They are in the process of establishing their own company so that they can lease their labor, but until they are in place they also need help, says Steffensen.

He believes this will be in place for the summer.
"There is a lot of activity in the area and we have received signals that there are good opportunities for work for the remaining harbor workers in Mosjøen. In addition, we are waiting for the trial, so it is important for us to keep the port workers working, "he says.

collection campaign
The account number of the collection action is: 3060.33.16947 (Norsk Havnearbeiderforening, PO Box 2079, 6028 Skarbøvik).
BIC/SWIFT: DNBANOKKXXX
IBAN: NO0330603316947 acountnr: 30603316947
"I hope as many as possible can contribute, and that everyone is spreading the call to help," concludes Bjørn Steffensen, head of the Norwegian Harbor Workers' Union.

Tags: Felixstowe DockersTransport Workers Association
Categories: Labor News

Pakistan: Journalist shot dead in Rawalpindi

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 03/04/2018 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IFJ
Categories: Labor News

UK: University Teachers Launch the Largest Strike in Recent History

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 03/04/2018 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: TeleSUR
Categories: Labor News

SF MTA, SF Mayor And Supervisors Allowing Privatization Of Public Transportation With Ford Chariot Deal

Current News - Sun, 03/04/2018 - 05:53

SF MTA, SF Mayor And Supervisors Allowing Privatization Of Public Transportation With Ford Chariot Deal

SFMTA Chariot permit endangers public transit

http://www.sfexaminer.com/no-fan-van-sfmta-chariot-permit-endangers-publ...

Chariot, San Francisco’s only private bus service, is prohibited from replicating Muni bus routes. (Daniel Kim/2017 Special to S.F. Examiner)
By Patrick Maley on February 28, 2018 1:00 am
As a regular Muni commuter, I’m extremely disappointed with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s decision to move forward with its permit program for the Chariot private bus service. Far from “complementing” Muni service, the new rules essentially give the exclusive right for Chariot to compete directly with Muni. Of the 14 current routes competing with Muni, all but three would be “grandfathered” in — that is, they can run as is and even intensify in the future.

Many of Chariot’s operations are illegal; drivers have few legal places to pick up and discharge passengers, so they double park, pull into crosswalks and public bus stops and block driveways. In fact, Chariot has been observed blocking hospital entrances and preventing paratransit vehicles from accessing passenger unloading zones. Rather than “addressing traffic violations,” the regulations send Chariot the tacit message that traffic violations will be ignored.

Moreover, the SFMTA could be charging a lot more for the right to use city streets as places of enterprise, but it isn’t. In 2012, San Francisco cab drivers sued the SFMTA over the cost of medallions — a fee of $250,000 per vehicle — in Mounsey vs. SFMTA. The cab drivers lost. But the SFMTA is only proposing to charge Ford, which owns Chariot, $240,000 for the entire cost of its fleet, which around 150 vehicles now. Ford just received a 14 percent tax cut from the federal government. Why is the SFMTA consenting to another giveaway at the local level?

Chariot’s website states the core of its mission is “universal access to better transportation.” In reality, Chariot’s business model is about marketing a luxury brand to affluent city dwellers who do not want to mix with other San Franciscans. Chariot’s vehicle type, pricing and marketing are all set up to facilitate this experience. Its fares are high enough that it can effectively exclude riders it doesn’t want, particularly the 53 percent of Muni riders who live in households earning less than $50,000 a year. Unlike Muni, it doesn’t provide free or discounted fares to seniors, children or low-to-moderate income rider; Chariot’s rates range from $3 to $5 a ride. It also requires the use of a smartphone, an average cost of $567, and requires a service plan at an average monthly cost of $140.

In this way, Chariot’s price discrimination creates a barrier to many of the people most in need of public transit. Clearly, Chariot’s mission is not providing “universal access” but making a profit per ride on commuters who would rather ride in a segregated van.

Ford knows private cars sales are declining, so it intends to move into the privatized transit business. It found a willing market with new San Franciscans who don’t want to ride with people who are poorer, older or of a different color than them — and now they have found a willing agency in the SFMTA. This is Jim Crow 2.0.

Patrick Maley is a public transportation advocate in San Francisco.

Tags: SF MTAprivatizationSF politicians privatizationdiscrimination
Categories: Labor News

FTA finds tracks in ‘black condition’ but DC Metro routinely reclassifies them, keeping them in service "some contend Metro has a culture that discourages workers from reporting track defects and other problems — and their true severity — for fear of reta

Current News - Sat, 03/03/2018 - 20:07

FTA finds tracks in ‘black condition’ but DC Metro routinely reclassifies them, keeping them in service
"some contend Metro has a culture that discourages workers from reporting track defects and other problems — and their true severity — for fear of retaliation."
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/fta-finds-track...

A Metro train derailed just outside the East Falls Church station in July 2016. Tracks with “black-level” defects can cause derailments and other problems. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)
By Faiz Siddiqui March 3 at 6:00 PM Email the author
For three consecutive months, federal inspectors warned of deteriorating rail ties at Metro’s Braddock Road crossover, a “black-level” defect that calls for tracks be taken out of service, but Metro continued to run Blue and Yellow line trains over the segment as conditions persisted, according to inspection reports from the Federal Transit Administration.
“Only five non-defective ties were observed within 40 feet at [the interlocking]. Black condition,” an FTA inspector wrote Sept. 19, 2017. “Only five non-defective ties were observed within a 40-foot segment of track at [the interlocking]. Black Condition,” an Oct. 12 report noted.
“Five consecutive defective crossties, measuring 162 inches between non-defective ties, were observed at [the interlocking]. Black Condition,” a Nov. 29 inspection report said, summing up a type of track defect that has led to Metro derailments in the past.
Metro said its crews followed up on the FTA inspections and found the tracks were safe to keep in operation amid “ongoing” work, including the repair and replacement of some ties and upgrades to technical components, along with a doubling of inspections along the stretch.
A long-term fix for the Braddock Road interlocking — a point where trains change tracks — was on hold until temperatures rose, and is scheduled for this weekend, Metro said last week. Crews will renew the steel rails, fasteners and studs in the area, the transit agency said.
Federal inspectors found serious defects on these portions of the Metro tracks, according to their October and November reports. (Images from the Federal Transit Administration)
But Metro’s decision to keep tracks in service for months despite repeated warnings of dangerous conditions highlights a disconnect between FTA inspectors’ assessments and Metro’s response to the federal oversight it has been under since October 2015.
“I can only hope it is not a replay of the same movie we’ve seen way too much,” said Anthony Foxx, the Obama administration’s transportation secretary who had taken the unprecedented step of placing the rail system under federal oversight after its former oversight panel was found woefully inadequate.
Foxx said he did not know why the Metro and FTA findings would differ.
A Washington Post analysis of FTA inspections of Metro in 2017 documented at least 27 instances where federal inspectors noted black-level conditions in the 117-mile rail system, an indication that tracks had deteriorated to the point that trains could not safely run on them. The most recent “black-level” defect was from a November report, the latest round of publicly available FTA inspections. Metro says in 25 of the 27 cases, its workers did not find conditions as severe as those outlined by FTA inspectors.[Inspection of Baltimore subway found 17 of 19 track segments checked were unsafe to operate on]
It was an excessive number of black-level defects that prompted Maryland transit officials to order a month-long shutdown of the entire 15.5-mile Baltimore subway last month. Officials found 17 of 19 track segments evaluated in 11 curves were inoperable because of concerns about the angle of the tracks.
Metro said the two defects it agreed with the FTA were “actual” black conditions were both on a stretch of the Orange, Blue and Silver lines outside the Stadium-Armory station that has previously been highlighted as a problem spot.
The remaining 25 cases included 16 instances of loose, defective or non-holding fasteners and a spectrum of issues from wide gauge to wearing of the rails. Ten did not require speed restrictions, Metro said, and of the remaining segments, five were placed under slow-speed restrictions, seven were put under medium speed restrictions and three were repaired overnight, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said.
Metro’s explanation puzzled the FTA, which said the transit authority conducts follow-up inspections to determine the proper course of action for FTA’s findings. Those follow-ups don’t change the initial FTA assessments — made during inspections with Metro officials on site.
“FTA and [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority] inspectors use the same definitions of track conditions, as found in the WMATA manual. WMATA then conducts follow-up inspections to determine the appropriate response, which they have some discretion to decide,” an FTA spokesman said. “However, those follow-up actions do not change the original finding.”
[FTA safety inspectors uncover more track defects that Metro missed]
The FTA said it stands by its inspections and the conclusions of its investigators. One possible explanation for the discrepancy, Metro said, is that the transit agency is in the process of updating some aspects of its track inspection manual, including sections on the appropriate responses to certain findings.Under the FTA oversight, federal track walkers inspect portions of the Metro system multiple times per month alongside Metro crews, and make observations in reports shared with Metro. Although Metro decides how to respond, the FTA has the authority to shut down all or parts of the system if it doesn’t trust Metro’s assessments, the agency said.
“This is not a matter of an ‘us versus them’ dynamic with the FTA,” Stessel said. “When a report of a track defect comes in, WMATA subject-matter experts respond to validate the report, assess the condition and determine appropriate mitigation. Upon further review/analysis with subject-matter experts on site, FTA inspectors will typically defer the final determination/resolution to the agency experts, as we are ultimately responsible for safeguarding the riding public.”
Track defects are logged using a color-coded guide. Defects are rated on a best-to-worst spectrum from green to yellow to red to black. Because of the progressive color-coding, rail experts say, a regularly inspected system should avoid black-level defects. But some contend Metro has a culture that discourages workers from reporting track defects and other problems — and their true severity — for fear of retaliation.
Those concerns were highlighted following a July 2016 derailment outside the East Falls Church stop. In the wake of an investigation into the incident, Metro fired a third of its track inspection department and overhauled the 60-worker unit after officials found a widespread pattern of report falsification and retaliation.
It’s also not the first time FTA inspectors have caught serious track defects that Metro workers missed.
In April 2016, Metro halted rail traffic or slowed trains in 10 locations after federal inspectors discovered track defects that Metro inspectors missed; the defects could have caused derailments and other problems.
Meanwhile, Metro is still investigating a Jan. 15 derailment between Farragut North and Metro Center, which a preliminary report shows was caused by a broken rail.
[One-third of Metro’s track inspection department has been fired for falsifying records, Wiedefeld confirms]
This also wasn’t the first time Metro downplayed an inspector’s assessment of the dangerous conditions at the Braddock crossover. One of the agency’s own track inspectors warned of severely degraded tracks in the area, only to be rebutted by supervisors who said the tracks were safe, according to two individuals with knowledge of the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the investigation.
The Metro inspector took his complaint to the FTA, federal inspection reports show, and a later FTA inspection validated the worker’s assessment. A March 2016 FTA inspection report noted: “[N]on holding crossties and fasteners permitting both rails to move horizontally and vertically. Both rails could be moved horizontally with human foot pressure.”
The Washington Post review of 2017 reports shows that the defects found by the FTA ranged from concerns about gauge — the width of the tracks — to the condition of crossties, which secure the rails in place, and concerns about the rails themselves.
But the majority concerned fasteners, components that secure the rails in place underground and in some aerial portions of the system.
In one instance that raised alarm with the FTA, but was later downgraded by Metro, FTA crews discovered last March that tracks were not holding in place on an aerial structure in the Grosvenor area.
The “egg shape fasteners are failing,” the FTA inspector observed. “This condition is allowing the rail to float in an unsecure [manner].”
During the year-long SafeTrack program, Metro replaced more than 50,000 crossties and says it is undergoing a similar process with fasteners — a process that is less disruptive and labor-intensive than the one for crossties.
[After a year of FTA oversight of Metro, questions about whether safety has improved]
“We replaced just over 13,000 fasteners in the past six months, with a similar number planned over the remainder of the fiscal year,” Stessel said.
While SafeTrack’s conclusion in June pointed to progress for agency officials, the discovery of black-level conditions did not trend downward as the year progressed. Twelve of the black-level defects were recorded from September through November, the most recent data available. The FTA said it does not collect data on black-level conditions from other agencies for comparison.
Among the defects noted as black-level conditions in federal reports, but later assessed by Metro to be less severe: a Sept. 13 finding of wide gauge, where the tracks are spaced too far apart support a train. While not always classified as a black condition, wide gauge has been the cause of several derailments, including a 2015 incident outside the Smithsonian Metro station and the July 2016 derailment near East Falls Church.
Metro said it found 58 black conditions in the system last year, including the two it accepted from the FTA findings. Overall, the agency said it reported 295 conditions “resulting in speed restrictions or track being taken out of service” to the FTA last year.

FTA finds tracks in ‘black condition’ but Metro routinely reclassifies them, keeping them in service
Transit agency’s response highlights its disconnect with federal inspectors’ assessments while under U.S. oversight.
WASHINGTONPOST.COM

Tags: DC Metrohealth and safetyretaliationBullying
Categories: Labor News

Iran: Hundreds March In Ahvaz Demanding Release Of Arrested Workers

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 03/03/2018 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Radio Farda
Categories: Labor News

Colombia: Global Pilots Condemn Avianca Airlines Management’s Union Busting Actions

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 03/02/2018 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IFALPA
Categories: Labor News

UK: Chasm remains between PM’s Brexit rhetoric and reality, says TUC

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 03/02/2018 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: TUC
Categories: Labor News

Rebuilding an Independent Fighting Workers’ Movement-ATU 241 Chicago Activist Erek Slater Speaks Out

Current News - Thu, 03/01/2018 - 18:37

Rebuilding an Independent Fighting Workers’ Movement-ATU 241 Chicago Activist Erek Slater
Speaks Out
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQQD9jXKmqc&feature=youtu.be
Erek Slater
Published on Feb 25, 2018
Discussion of Chicago region transit workers recent campaigns to unite with each other and our allies. In the context of a potential Supreme Court decision harming unions financial standing (Janus), this video briefly takes lessons from the period of expanse of the labor movement in the United States (1930s-40s). This video argues for a turn in the workers movement away from business unionism and towards the continuity of independent mass action of the working class.

The views expressed in this video do not reflect the views of the Chicago Transit Authority or the Amalgamated Transit Union.

Corrections, suggestions, ideas and most importantly if you want to get involved, please email: transitworkersunite@gmail.com

corrections:
-the worker-community confrontation of the CTA at Kennedy King Community College was in 2011, not 2015.
-The CIO is the Congress of Industrial Organizations

Tags: Chicago ATU 241transit workers
Categories: Labor News

Iran: Authorities Move To Intimidate Steel Workers; More Than Ten Arrested

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 03/01/2018 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Radio Farda
Categories: Labor News

Turkey: Sponsor of Bundesliga teams fires union members

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL
Categories: Labor News

Nigeria: 35 Out Of 36 Nigerian States Owing Workers Salaries - Trade Union President

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Sahara Reporters
Categories: Labor News

Denmark: Nationwide public worker strike looms as talks break down with government

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Copenhagen Post
Categories: Labor News

Yemen: IFJ urges release of brave journalist and union activist

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IFJ
Categories: Labor News

Burning Bridges: America’s 20-Year Crusade to Deport Labor Leader Harry Bridges

ILWU - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 11:38

In his new book, Burning Bridges, attorney Peter Afrasiabi introduces us to the relentless, decades-long crusade to discredit and deport ILWU leader Harry Bridges. The book transports readers back to the tumultuous height of the red scare during the 1940’s and 50’s and provides a sense of how doggedly the government and employers tried to rid the country of a man because of his labor activism and political ideas. It also gives the reader a sense of how immigration law has been historically used to attack workers’ rights and their ability to organize.

Afrasiabi opens the book with details about Bridges’ early life and the events of the 1934 coastwise waterfront strike. But it’s not until he delves into the deportation attempts against Bridges and the legal drama that unfolded in court that Afrasiabi’s writing truly shines.

Afrasiabi quickly examines how the case against Bridges formed. Early in his role as the leader of the newly-organized longshoremen, Bridges came under the watchful eye of a loose-knit group of anti-union players—employers, American Legionnaires, and police officials. Bridges collaborated with a diverse array of people supporting longshore workers’ efforts to improve their conditions, including some Communist Party members. He himself believed passionately in fighting racial discrimination and granting rank-and-file workers a say in how they were treated on the job—ideas that were considered radical at the time. These beliefs, associations, and Bridges’ overall effectiveness as a leader put him in the crosshairs of anti-unionists who were collecting information on him by 1935, with a goal of removing him from the waterfront. They even discussed assassination. As a safer alternative, deportation offered a promising opportunity dispose of Bridges.

Bridges proved vulnerable to this strategy. Australian by birth, he had never gotten naturalized after relocating to the U.S. as a young man in 1922. Employers seized upon a 1918 law that allowed for the deportation of noncitizens who belonged to subversive organizations advocating overthrow of the government. If they could link Bridges to the Communist Party, they could have him legally deported. They demanded action from Congress and the Department of Labor, which then oversaw immigration matters.

Initial government investigations failed to link Bridges to the Communist Party, but private interests conducted their own independent but biased investigations, including the American Legion’s Subversive Activities Commission in San Francisco. Its Chair, Harper Knowles, conspired with John Keegan, Chief of Detectives in the Portland Police Department, and Stanley Doyle, an undercover prosecutor in Oregon.

Afrasiabi calls the three the “Knowles- Keegan-Doyle Axis.” This “Axis” coordinated an interstate effort to collect evidence and witnesses against Bridges. It met secretly with several of his associates and used bribes and blackmail to extract testimony. Some of the money and resources for this nefarious endeavor came from the State of Oregon and the City of Portland, even though the investigation was outside of Oregon’s jurisdiction.

Knowles and the American Legion had friends in Congress who pressured Francis Perkins, President Franklin Roosevelt’s Labor Secretary, to push for Bridges’ deportation. Several of these Congressmen were members of the Dies Committee, an anti-Communist body that was a precursor to the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Because Secretary Perkins did not direct the Department of Labor to take swift action to have Bridges tried and deported, some Congressmen called for her impeachment. This was rejected, but its threat irreparably damaged Perkins’ credibility in immigration matters.

Perkins and the Department of Labor eventually capitulated and agreed to hear the case against Bridges. Public hearings began on Angel Island, the San Francisco headquarters of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), in July 1939. The government chose the remote island to avoid publicity and protests. John Landis, the highly respected Dean of Harvard Law School, conducted the hearings.

Afrasiabi describes the hearing room scene like a movie screenplay for a tragi-comedy. Government witnesses contradicted themselves. The prosecution’s key evidence, Bridges’ supposed Communist Party membership card, was a forgery. A star witness had been indicted for racketeering in another case. Keegan and Doyle used bribery and threats to extract testimony.

Bridges, on the other hand, freely acknowledged that he knew and worked with people who were Communists, but convincingly denied membership in the Party. He pointed out that the Party’s political theories were of little practical use to him because “there is no one, when it comes to the best policy of the longshoremen on the waterfront, that knows more about what is best for us than we ourselves.”

Landis ruled in Bridges favor, saying “that Bridges’ aims are energetically radical may be admitted, but the proof fails to establish that the methods he seeks to employ to realize them are other than those that the framework of democratic and constitutional government permits.” Bridges filed an application for naturalization. Meanwhile, the anti-Bridges forces prepared for another attack. The Bridges case was only beginning. The new onslaught featured rewriting immigration laws, reducing the influence of the Department of Labor over immigration matters, and expanding government surveillance against alleged subversives.

Within months of Landis’ decision, Congress passed a resolution directly targeting Bridges. H.R. 9766 authorized the U.S. Attorney General to deport the ILWU leader, “whose presence in this country the Congress deems hurtful.” The bill was illegal because the U.S. Constitution prohibits bills of attainder—laws that target a specific person or group. Knowing that the popular bill would pass in the Senate, Roosevelt feared vetoing it.

Not wanting to seem “soft on Communism,” he directed Attorney General Robert Jackson to work with Congress to find a political compromise. The compromise came in the form of another bill, the Smith Act, which Roosevelt signed into law on June 28, 1940. It didn’t mention Bridges directly, but opened the door to another deportation attempt by expanding anti-sedition language and allowing the government to deport any noncitizen who “at the time of entering the United States… or any time thereafter” was a member of or affiliated with the Communist Party. Legislators hoped this language would make Bridges a vulnerable target.

Attorneys: Carol King, Richard Gladstein,
and Aubrey Grossman, strategize with Harry Bridges during the hearings on Angel Island.

More than legislation was needed to activate Bridges’ deportation. But when criticism intensified against Perkins and the Department of Labor for their handling of immigration cases, Roosevelt caved to the pressure and transferred INS oversight from the Department of Labor to the Department of Justice. This removed Secretary

Perkins’ influence over immigration matters and placed the INS under the control of the U.S. Attorney General— and the investigative arm of the FBI. Attorney General Jackson quickly ordered FBI head J. Edgar Hoover to investigate Bridges. Hoover requested and received extended wiretapping powers over “aliens” and “subversives,” and put Bridges’ under constant surveillance.

Hoover was a fanatical anti- Communist who declared the press that “beyond a doubt, Bridges is a Red.” Based on the new law and FBI investigation, the Bridges case went to trial again in 1941. Bridges lost this second trial, but appealed the decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals, which overturned the verdict. U.S. Attorney General Francis Biddle subsequently overturned the appeal. A lengthy appeals process eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 1945.

Justice Frank Murphy wrote the high court’s majority decision, which favored Bridges, saying that “seldom if ever in the history of this nation has there been such a concentrated and relentless crusade to deport an individual because he dared exercise that freedom which belongs to him as a human being and is guaranteed him by the Constitution…. Freedom of speech and of press is accorded aliens residing in this country. So far as this record shows, the literature published by Harry Bridges, the utterances made by him were entitled to that protection. They revealed a militant advocacy of the cause of trade unionism. But they did not teach or advocate or advise the subversive conduct condemned by the statute.”

With that victory, Bridges then filed for citizenship. As part of the naturalization process, two of Bridges’ close colleagues, ILWU International Vice President J. R. Robertson and Henry Schmidt, a 1934 strike veteran from Local 10, signed an affidavit stating that Bridges was not a Communist Party member. Bridges testified to the same. The Judge granted Bridges’ citizenship petition. Bridges was finally a U.S. Citizen.

But, the attacks against Bridges and the ILWU continued. In 1948, ILWU longshoremen struck for 90 days against an employer attempt to use the newly passed Taft-Hartley Act to red-bait Bridges and other ILWU leadership and to destroy the union’s hiring hall. The strike was won, but the following year Bridges and the two witnesses to his naturalization hearing were indicted on three counts of criminal perjury and conspiracy because both claimed in their testimony that Bridges was not a Communist. At the same time, the Department of Justice filed a civil suit to cancel Bridges’ U.S. citizenship and have him deported to Australia.

The three unionists were tried and found guilty. Robertson and Schmidt were given two-year prison terms. Bridges was sentenced to five. Even their lawyers, San Francisco attorneys Vincent Hallinan and James McGinnis, were sentenced to criminal contempt of court and served prison sentences.

Bridges got out on bail, which the government revoked, and he served 21 days in jail. The case went through another appeals process and again landed before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1953, the high court ruled in Bridges’ favor a second time, setting aside Bridges’, Robertson’s, and Schmidt’s sentences and restoring Bridges’ U.S. Citizenship. The civil suit against Bridges was dropped at the federal court level in 1955. By then Bridges had endured nearly 20 years of trials and appeals.

Afrasiabi summarizes Bridges ordeal as “persecution by prosecution, the heart of the use and abuse of the legal system by those in power against those who challenge the status quo.” Concluding his book with a thoughtful legal analysis of the case, Afrasiabi examines oversteps by the government’s executive branch and its influence on the lower courts throughout the 20 years Bridges fought for his right to remain in the United States.

Because Afrasiabi focuses primarily on legal arguments and courtroom transcripts, rather than the trial’s broad, lasting, social impact, he leaves out some historical information that should interest ILWU members. For example, the Smith Act, the law passed to invite a second set of trials against Bridges, eventually resulted in indictments of 215 U.S. citizens and noncitizen immigrants before it was rendered unconstitutional by a Supreme Court Decision in 1957. Among those indicted were socialists, Communist Party members, ILWU labor activists in Hawaii, and a founding member of the ACLU. The expansion of the FBI’s surveillance activities continued beyond the Bridges case and later included secret investigations into nonviolent movements, including civil rights and anti-war groups.

Finally, the INS transfer from the Department of Labor to the Department of Justice—and more recently, to the Department of Homeland Security— permanently refocused the lens from which the government views immigration matters. Although he lightly touches on some of these topics, examining these points in depth is not the point of Afrasiabi’s book.

Although other historians have written about the case against Harry Bridges, Afrasiabi’s is the first full-length book on the trials. Afrasiabi undertook an extensive study of the Bridges case, including its thousands of pages of transcripts, and wrote an admirable book that is accessible to readers. The result is required reading for anyone with an interest in the ILWU and the life of Harry Bridges.

-Robin Walker

Categories: Unions

How to grow a union in an anti-union state "ATU Local 1235 local’s membership rate went up by 36 percent, despite being in a right-to-work state.”

Current News - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 11:06

How to grow a union in an anti-union state "ATU Local 1235 local’s membership rate went up by 36 percent, despite being in a right-to-work state.”

https://www.marketplace.org/2018/02/26/business/union-membership-south-t...
How to grow a union in an anti-union state

To Patrick Green, even one new member is a big deal. Green is a president of Local 1235, which is part of the Amalgamated Transit Union in Nashville, Tennessee. In the three years that he has been leading the union, the local’s membership rate went up by 36 percent, despite being in a right-to-work state.

By Jana Kasperkevic
February 26, 2018 | 7:31 AM
Demonstrators rally in front of city hall in solidarity with union workers across the country on February 26, 2011 in New York City.
Demonstrators rally in front of city hall in solidarity with union workers across the country on February 26, 2011 in New York City. - Michael Nagle/Getty Images
Before Mark Janus gets his paycheck, a number of things get deducted: taxes, Social Security and Medicare. And then a small portion of Janus’ paycheck goes to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a union that negotiated his contract. Janus is not a union member, but he is required to pay what is called a “fair-share” fee that covers the union’s costs of negotiating and maintaining a contract.

Those fair-share fees are controversial. Janus, who works in Illinois, sued AFSCME, arguing it violated his free speech, and the Supreme Court is hearing his case today.

But had Janus lived in one of the 28 states that have “right-to-work” laws in place, he wouldn’t have had to pay the fees in the first place. These laws allow workers covered by a union-negotiated contract to opt out of paying the fair-share fee.

Sarah Menendez for Marketplace
In the South, right-to-work legislation has been on the books since the 1940s when these states decided to use low unionization as an incentive to attract business investment, according to Barry Hirsch, a labor economist and a professor at the Georgia State University.

But recently the movement has begun to creep north. In 2012, Indiana and Michigan passed new right-to-work laws, followed by Wisconsin in 2015, West Virginia in 2016 and Missouri and Kentucky in 2017.

“In the past, going back 40, 50 years ago, and particularly in the northern part, people had either parents or relatives who were union members. Or next-door neighbors,” said Hirsch. “Whereas in the South, a large proportion of people would grow up not knowing anyone who is a union member.”

Union organizers in states like Tennessee are hoping to change that. Since 2010, the number of union members in Tennessee has grown from 115,000 to 155,000. Still, only 5.7 percent of Tennessee workers are members of a union.

How to grow a union in the South

To Patrick Green, even one new member is a big deal. Green is a president of Local 1235, which is part of the Amalgamated Transit Union in Nashville, Tennessee. In the three years that he has been leading the union, the local’s membership rate went up by 36 percent, despite being in a right-to-work state.

“I am a native Nashvillian,” Green said. “Right-to-work is all I've ever known.”

Before Green became a president of his local union, he was “a fair quiet bus driver” that “didn’t cause any problems.” As years went on, Green, who had worked in management in the past, felt that the union did not always do its best to represent the workers’ interests and that it was not as transparent as it should’ve been when negotiating contracts.

But instead of leaving the union and not paying his union dues, Green and two of his friends decided to run for leadership positions so that they could turn things around.

“I had no union background, no union experience, was just a member and saw an opportunity to help the local that is here in Nashville, Tennessee,” he said. “I felt that the leadership that we had at the time, they weren't equipped to handle the changing workplace that we were facing.”

In June 2015, Green was elected president of Local 1235. At the time, its membership rate was just around 50 percent. But he didn’t view Tennessee’s right-to-work laws as a death sentence — instead, he saw them as something that forces the union to try harder to connect with the workers it is supposed to represent.

“We had a lot of disgruntled members, which is by design in a right-to-work state,” Green said. “We have experienced generations of people who believe that unions were bad. ... They just take your money. They abuse you. They don't do anything for you. And so we discovered during the process of running for the union president that we had to internally change the mindset of the members that we actually had.”

Green found that the most effective way to find out what mattered to his members was to ask their families. Many workers’ families depend on the benefits covered by the union’s contract.

“We actually have separate planning sessions for spouses where we look at spouses, husbands and wives, and we said: ‘What do you need? What do you need for your family? What can we do better as it relates to our benefits? How can we best support the family?’ And you would be surprised at how engaged people actually get.”

The new approach helped change the mindset of a number of the union’s members.

“When I first took over the local a few years ago, we were effectively just south of 300 members. We were more in the 270 to 280 range,” Green said. “Today, we have about 460 members out of an eligible group of about 530. And so we are effectively closing that gap quickly.”

Green attributes that to happy union members who spread the word about the benefits of being in the union.

In states like Tennessee, where so few people belong to a union, unions face an important task of getting the word out about what they have to offer. Every quarter, members of Local 1235 volunteer in their community. Green views it not just as a team-building exercise, but also as a way to do community outreach and let Nashvillians meet union members.

“Our stigma here is so bad in the South. Most people are ashamed to tell their neighbors that they are in a union,” he said. “And we actually want to change that. Because we're human beings, too. We've just made the decision that we want a workplace that is fair and one that treats me with dignity, and we're not afraid to speak out.”

Tags: ATU 1235Right To WorkNashvilleTennessee
Categories: Labor News

How to grow a union in an anti-union state "ATU Local 1235 local’s membership rate went up by 36 percent, despite being in a right-to-work state.”

Current News - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 11:06

How to grow a union in an anti-union state "ATU Local 1235 local’s membership rate went up by 36 percent, despite being in a right-to-work state.”

https://www.marketplace.org/2018/02/26/business/union-membership-south-t...
How to grow a union in an anti-union state

To Patrick Green, even one new member is a big deal. Green is a president of Local 1235, which is part of the Amalgamated Transit Union in Nashville, Tennessee. In the three years that he has been leading the union, the local’s membership rate went up by 36 percent, despite being in a right-to-work state.

By Jana Kasperkevic
February 26, 2018 | 7:31 AM
Demonstrators rally in front of city hall in solidarity with union workers across the country on February 26, 2011 in New York City.
Demonstrators rally in front of city hall in solidarity with union workers across the country on February 26, 2011 in New York City. - Michael Nagle/Getty Images
Before Mark Janus gets his paycheck, a number of things get deducted: taxes, Social Security and Medicare. And then a small portion of Janus’ paycheck goes to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a union that negotiated his contract. Janus is not a union member, but he is required to pay what is called a “fair-share” fee that covers the union’s costs of negotiating and maintaining a contract.

Those fair-share fees are controversial. Janus, who works in Illinois, sued AFSCME, arguing it violated his free speech, and the Supreme Court is hearing his case today.

But had Janus lived in one of the 28 states that have “right-to-work” laws in place, he wouldn’t have had to pay the fees in the first place. These laws allow workers covered by a union-negotiated contract to opt out of paying the fair-share fee.

Sarah Menendez for Marketplace
In the South, right-to-work legislation has been on the books since the 1940s when these states decided to use low unionization as an incentive to attract business investment, according to Barry Hirsch, a labor economist and a professor at the Georgia State University.

But recently the movement has begun to creep north. In 2012, Indiana and Michigan passed new right-to-work laws, followed by Wisconsin in 2015, West Virginia in 2016 and Missouri and Kentucky in 2017.

“In the past, going back 40, 50 years ago, and particularly in the northern part, people had either parents or relatives who were union members. Or next-door neighbors,” said Hirsch. “Whereas in the South, a large proportion of people would grow up not knowing anyone who is a union member.”

Union organizers in states like Tennessee are hoping to change that. Since 2010, the number of union members in Tennessee has grown from 115,000 to 155,000. Still, only 5.7 percent of Tennessee workers are members of a union.

How to grow a union in the South

To Patrick Green, even one new member is a big deal. Green is a president of Local 1235, which is part of the Amalgamated Transit Union in Nashville, Tennessee. In the three years that he has been leading the union, the local’s membership rate went up by 36 percent, despite being in a right-to-work state.

“I am a native Nashvillian,” Green said. “Right-to-work is all I've ever known.”

Before Green became a president of his local union, he was “a fair quiet bus driver” that “didn’t cause any problems.” As years went on, Green, who had worked in management in the past, felt that the union did not always do its best to represent the workers’ interests and that it was not as transparent as it should’ve been when negotiating contracts.

But instead of leaving the union and not paying his union dues, Green and two of his friends decided to run for leadership positions so that they could turn things around.

“I had no union background, no union experience, was just a member and saw an opportunity to help the local that is here in Nashville, Tennessee,” he said. “I felt that the leadership that we had at the time, they weren't equipped to handle the changing workplace that we were facing.”

In June 2015, Green was elected president of Local 1235. At the time, its membership rate was just around 50 percent. But he didn’t view Tennessee’s right-to-work laws as a death sentence — instead, he saw them as something that forces the union to try harder to connect with the workers it is supposed to represent.

“We had a lot of disgruntled members, which is by design in a right-to-work state,” Green said. “We have experienced generations of people who believe that unions were bad. ... They just take your money. They abuse you. They don't do anything for you. And so we discovered during the process of running for the union president that we had to internally change the mindset of the members that we actually had.”

Green found that the most effective way to find out what mattered to his members was to ask their families. Many workers’ families depend on the benefits covered by the union’s contract.

“We actually have separate planning sessions for spouses where we look at spouses, husbands and wives, and we said: ‘What do you need? What do you need for your family? What can we do better as it relates to our benefits? How can we best support the family?’ And you would be surprised at how engaged people actually get.”

The new approach helped change the mindset of a number of the union’s members.

“When I first took over the local a few years ago, we were effectively just south of 300 members. We were more in the 270 to 280 range,” Green said. “Today, we have about 460 members out of an eligible group of about 530. And so we are effectively closing that gap quickly.”

Green attributes that to happy union members who spread the word about the benefits of being in the union.

In states like Tennessee, where so few people belong to a union, unions face an important task of getting the word out about what they have to offer. Every quarter, members of Local 1235 volunteer in their community. Green views it not just as a team-building exercise, but also as a way to do community outreach and let Nashvillians meet union members.

“Our stigma here is so bad in the South. Most people are ashamed to tell their neighbors that they are in a union,” he said. “And we actually want to change that. Because we're human beings, too. We've just made the decision that we want a workplace that is fair and one that treats me with dignity, and we're not afraid to speak out.”

Tags: ATU 1235Right To WorkNashvilleTennessee
Categories: Labor News

Norm Parks: Lifetime of leadership & service to the ILWU

ILWU - Tue, 02/27/2018 - 16:59

Norman “Norm” S. Parks was born on March 7, 1943, into a strong union family with a long legacy in longshoring. His father, Ezra, was a skilled grain “boardman” at Local 8 in Portland who knew how to load grain that arrived onto ships from shoreside elevators that sent torrents rushing down long tubes that roared at the open end below where men used heavy wooden boards to deflect the cargo into nooks and crannies of the ship compartments, so vessels could be “filled to the gills” and properly balanced.

After high school, Parks served in the military where he learned how to load vessels, experience that came in handy after he was discharged in 1962 and began working jobs on the Portland docks with his father and other Local 8 members. At that time, roughly 1 in 3 jobs on the Portland docks involved handling grain. Like his father, Parks worked a wide variety of jobs, but chose to spend much of his time on grain vessels where he worked as a deck man, spout trimmer, winch driver, boss boardman and safety spotter. Working shoreside, he spent time working in and around the elevators, gaining experience and knowledge that would help him in future years when he served on union negotiating committees.

In 1966, Parks married his high school sweetheart Diana, who became his wife, life partner and a Local 8 member for over 40 years. Parks encouraged them to set their wedding date on July 5, so they could always have plenty of company by celebrating their anniversary on Bloody Thursday – the ILWU longshore holiday that honors 7 martyrs who were killed in 1934 when the union was established.

Norm and Diana’s love for each other and for their union formed a strong bond that endured for the next 51 years. They had two children, Sheri and Michael, and eventually grandchildren David, Larry and Preston.

Despite their growing family, Parks became increasingly involved in union leadership posts and was elected by his co-workers to serve as Business Agent and Dispatcher, Trustee, Labor Relations Committee member, plus three terms as Local 8’s Secretary-Treasurer.

He was chosen to serve outside of Portland including frequent service as a delegate to the Longshore Caucus and International Union Conventions. Parks also became a regular face on the International Union Executive Board, where he served for a remarkable 28 years and travelled to meetings every three months.

“He was on the IEB for over half the time we were married,” said Diana Parks, who travelled frequently with Norm to meetings. Parks was deeply involved with grain contract negotiations and had a consistent presence on Longshore Negotiating Committees, participating in eight different contracts.

During the negotiations, Diana pitched in to help find housing for Committee members and remained in San Francisco for the duration of the contract talks. In addition to his role in longshore negotiations, Parks participated in a host of union committees that included Grain, Barge, Logs, Technology and Education. Parks travelled far and wide, including a union delegation that met with Mexican port workers in 1993 to discuss the ILWU’s opposition to NAFTA. Two years later, he travelled with his father, Ezra, to Liverpool, England, where the sacked dockers repaid the gesture of solidarity by honoring the visit with a brass plaque at their union headquarters. Norman Parks passed on January 8, 2017, while living in Goodyear, Arizona.

“Norm had the wisdom over the last decade to step back from front line leadership and let us young upstarts find our way,” said Local 8’s Stephen Hanson, who is now a pensioner himself. “He let us make the mistakes that were necessary for us to become capable leaders. Norm’s philosophy of work, be it the double-back or question of steadies, is marked on our local.”

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