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Lac Mégantic: Blame the Railroad Worker on Steroids

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Lac Mégantic: Blame the Railroad Worker on Steroids

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on Lac Mégantic: Blame the Worker on Steroids
lac megantic workerAn unmanned, half-mile long train “bomb train” carrying tank-cars full of highly explosive crude oil barrels toward a city where it is doomed to derail on a curve, killing everyone in its wake. Luckily, Denzel Washington and Chris Pine show up to save the city at the last second. Everyone lives happily every after.

That was the plot of the 2010 film “Unstoppable.” It’s a fun film. I recommend it.

In real life, however, in the small town of Lac-Mégantic in Quebec, Canada on July 5, 2016, Denzel and Chris never showed up.

At around 1:00 am on July 6, 2013, an unmanned train carrying 72 tank-cars of highly combustible crude oil barreled down a hill at 65 mph, three times the normal speed, and careened off the track, disgorging six million liters of highly combustible petroleum crude. Within moments the oil exploded. The resulting inferno obliterated most of the downtown and incinerated 47 persons.

As might be expected, there were many stories to be told here, and hopefully someone is writing a book: the safety of transporting highly hazardous crude oil in fragile tank cars over thousands of miles of poorly maintained track; the impact of an out-of control fossil fuel economy on the environment, on workers in the industry and on citizens in its wake; the damage caused by a rapacious rail company focused more on cost cutting than safety; and the weakness of government oversight (even in Canada.)

But the story we’ll be telling here is one that we’ve heard many times before — the tendency of those who have responsibility for a catastrophe to shift blame onto individual workers instead of identifying the root causes and systemic problems that, if addressed, could prevent future catastrophes. In this case we’re focusing on the arrest of the engineer and sole crew member, Tom Harding, as well as traffic controller Richard Labrie and manager of train operations Jean Demaitre. Harding, Labrie and Demaitre were were handcuffed and frog-marched to prison. All three have pleaded not-guilty to 47 counts of criminal negligence causing death. Jury selection is currently under way.

I’ve been writing this on and off for several months, since I attended a music benefit for the rail workers. As I began looking into their story, in injustice and plain stupidity of their prosecution became alarmingly evident. I could probably write a book on this one incident (and hopefully someone is already doing that), but out of consideration for my readers, I’m going to make this as short as possible. As those of you who read Confined Space have probably guessed, this is going to be an article on the stupidity of blaming workers for this tragedy when as we will see, there was a train-car load of other systemic causes that, if not addressed, will result in many more of these catastrophes.

Also note that I will frequently refer to Andrew Hopkins’ book Lessons From Longford: The Esso Gas Plant Explosion which lays out many of the principles of conducting a root cause investigation of the systemic causes of an industrial disaster.

What Happened

First, let’s review the events. On the evening of July 5, 2016, Tom Harding, the engineer and lone crew member of the 72-car train, operated by the now-bankrupt Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway (MMA) parked the train on a hill a few miles above the town Lac Mégantic, in Quebec, Canada, after having mechanical problems with the lead engine. Per instructions from headquarters, Harding set the air brakes on the lead locomotive, which he left running to keep air pressure supplied to the air brakes. He also applied a number of hand brakes. Per instruction, he then took a taxi to a nearby hotel, planning to deal with the locomotive’s mechanical problems in the morning.

Shortly before midnight, the lead locomotive, spewing oil from multiple leaks, caught fire. The fire department arrived to put out the fire and also shut down the lead locomotive to keep more oil from into the fire. After the fire department left, the airbrake, which was depended on the operating of the locomotive that had been shut down, began to lose pressure. The train began descending down the hill, picking up speed along the 7.2 miles to Lac Mégantic. When it hit the curve in Lac Mégantic, the train derailed, rupturing many of the cars and bursting into an inferno that killed 47 people in the town.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) conducted a through report in 2014, issuing 18 “Findings as to causes and contributing factors” and 16 additional “Findings as to risk.” The second “Finding as to causes and contributing Factors” concluded that “The 7 hand brakes that were applied to secure the train were insufficient to hold the train without the additional braking force provided by the locomotive’s independent brakes.”

Lac Megantic workerOn that basis, Tom Harding, along with two colleagues, traffic controller Richard Labrie and manager of train operations Jean Demaitre were arrested and accused of being responsible for he disaster. Conviction on a charge of criminal negligence causing death carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. Harding’s crime was not setting enough hand brakes to keep the train from rolling down the hill and his arrest was not pretty. He was “surrounded at his home by a SWAT team and led away in handcuffs to face charges of criminal negligence causing death, despite the fact that his lawyer had notified the police that Mr. Harding would voluntarily come to the court when asked to appear to face charges. He was escorted to a makeshift courtroom in full view of the news media.”

The Causes of the Lac Mégantic Disaster

As avid readers of Confined Space understand quite well by now, resolving safety issues is not as simple as finding a couple of workers to blame and firing them or throwing them in jail for life. Because if you don’t identify the root causes of a problem, everyone may feel a lot better for a while, but the problem will inevitably repeat itself.

In any accident investigation, there are direct causes (e.g. failure to set enough hand brakes) of the incident and then there are the systemic, inherent or root causes. It is those indirect, systemic causes for which changes can actually make meaningful change. As Hopkins describes, the latent conditions (poor design, gaps in supervision, maintenance failures, shortfalls in training, etc. etc.), if not corrected, will eventually “combine with local circumstances and active failures to penetrate the system’s many layers of defences.”

Blame the Worker: It is always convenient for management, and in this case even governments, to ignore the latent conditions described above, and blame workers for incidents. And the bigger the disaster, the greater the temptation to find and easy and convenient scapegoat. So before we explore this disaster, let’s look at the concept of blame the worker.

First, it is indisputable that Harding set too few hand brakes. But as Hopkins points out,

human beings inevitably make errors and errors by operators must be expected. Thus, rather than focusing on the operators who make the errors, modern accident analysis looks for the conditions which make the errors possible. It is nearly always the case that there was a whole series of contributory factors which created an operator error and set up the situation which made the error critical. Accident analyses which aim to prevent a recurrence seek to identify these factors. From this perspective, errors are seen as consequence rather than principal causes.

And if the focus in on “blame” instead of “why” and the blame starts and stops with a worker who made a mistake, then the real causes of the incident will never be identified, never addressed and the same thing will eventually happen again.

So let’s start looking at principal causes.

Layers of Protection: Also known as “defense in depth” or “safety redundancy,” in its simplest explanation having more than one way to keep a catastrophic even from occurring so that a “single-point failure” does not lead to catastrophic consequence . Ideally, these layers of protection should be independent of each other, so that the failure of one does not mean the failure of any others. Harding’s train, for example, had three brake systems: the hand brakes which were set on each individual car, the locomotive air brake (also known as the independent brake), which secures the locomotives and the automatic brake holds the rail cars in place. Harding set seven hand brakes and also set the independent brake. This was enough to hold the train when Harding was told to leave for the evening. But during the fire, the engine was shut down to keep it from leaking any more flammable oil into the flames. The problem was that without engine power, the independent brake gradually lost power and the hand brakes weren’t enough to hold the train on the hill. The train began to descend down the track, eventually speeding up to 65 mph into Lac-Mégantic, where it derailed. Harding was accused of not setting enough hand brakes on each car to keep the train from rolling down a hill.

But the Toronto Globe and Mail, which looked deeper into the incident noticed something important in the TSB report:

On page 105 of the 179-page report, a single paragraph suggests the accident “likely” would have been avoided had the air brakes on the rail cars (the automatic brake) been set as a backup safety precaution before the train was left unattended. However, Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway (MMA) instructed its staff not to use the automatic brakes.Transport Canada [which regulates and oversees Canadian railroads) either didn’t notice this practice or saw no problem with it.

Specifically, the TSB report said that “While MMA instructions did not allow the automatic brakes to be set following a proper hand brake effectiveness test, doing so would have acted as a temporary secondary defence, one that likely would have kept the train secured, even after the eventual release of the independent brakes.”

And why did MMA instructions not allow the automatic brake to be set? According to the Globe,

because air needs to be pumped back into the brake line in order to reset the system and get the automatic brakes on each car to release, it can sometimes take from 15 minutes to an hour to get a train moving again once it’s been parked.For this reason, some railways don’t like using the automatic air brakes as an added assurance or backup to the hand brakes, because it can cost time and money, the rail industry expert said.

It is far-fetched to think the automatic brake wouldn’t have played a direct role in preventing the accident, the person said. “This common sense, 10-second procedure has been used to secure rail cars for the last hundred years,” the rail industry source said.

When the Globe asked the TSB why this important finding was buried in the report, the TSB responded that “it didn’t want to distract from the main point that trains should be secured with the correct number of hand brakes.”

But that’s not all. The locomotive involved in the Lac Mégantic incident should have had yet another fail-safe device. The locomotive was equipped with a reset safety control (RSC) which activates alarms and then applies a penalty brake if the train begins to run away, even when the engine is shut down. Unfortunately, MMA had rewired the RSC incorrectly and did not stop the train when it began to run away.

Run to Failure Maintenance: You may not change a light bulb until it burns out or change the washers on your faucet until it starts leaking, but if you’re running a refinery, steel mill — or a railroad — just letting things break down before you fix them isn’t a very safe way to operate. High reliability organizations have strong preventive maintenance programs and a major element of OSHA’s Process Safety Management standard is “Mechanical Integrity,” which aims to prevent catastrophic incident by ensuring that procedures are implemented to prevent incidents through the proper maintenance of equipment. In this case, the lead locomotive was in terrible shape. Several months before, it has been to the repair shop. Instead of a lengthy standard repair, the company decided to essentially glue it back together with an epoxy-like material that lacked the required strength and durability of a permanent repair. The TSB report called this “a non-standard and less costly method” of repair. The night of July 5, the lead locomotive broke down on a hill above Lac-Mégantic. The Globe noted that “MMA, which declared bankruptcy after the derailment, had a reputation as one of the most aggressive cost-cutters in the rail industry.”

Profit: Even after the fire started, MMA did not call Harding, the Lead Engineer, back to the train to start another engine “due to the impact that it would have on train departure time the following morning and due to mandatory rest provisions.”

Normalization of Deviance: Normalization of deviance or of abnormality occurs when people become accustomed to violations of procedures or small incidents that don’t result in catastrophe. In this case, the official procedure was to perform a “handbrake effectiveness test” to confirm that the handbrakes alone could hold the train. This was supposed to be performed by releasing the independent brake to see if the hand brakes alone would hold the train. Harding did not release the independent brake when performing the test. The Globe speculated that the absence of previous problems may have been taken as an indicator of future success. Other MMA Lead Engineers also did not release the independent brakes when securing trains, which is indicative that poor train securement practices were not isolated to this accident.

The TSB report that in previous cases, Harding had also not set the officially required number of brakes, but nothing bad had happened. The report suggested that “The absence of previous problems may have been taken as an indicator of future success.”

But Wasn’t The Engineer Still At Fault?

OK, even with all of that, Harding did not set enough brakes. Why didn’t he set the correct number of brakes and why shouldn’t he be convicted? Let’s keep looking at other factors that led to the incident.

Training: The TSB report named “weaknesses in the process for ensuring adequate employee training” as one of the crucial indicators that MMS did not have a functioning safety management system. More specifically, the report found that “Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway did not provide effective training or oversight to ensure that crews understood and complied with rules governing train securement. ”

One of the reasons training was important is that figuring out how many hand brakes to set was complicated — too complicated for me to explain here, but go ahead and read the report if you’re really interested. To simplify, the number of handbrakes that had to be set was a function of the total number of cars, how many of them were loaded, the weather conditions, and the grade of the track. Each rail company in Canada had slightly different rules for how many hand brakes had to be set.

The engineer set the air brakes on the locomotive an 7 brakes on the individual cars. According to MMS procedures, the basic formula was 10% of the cars plus 2, which meant he should have set 9 brakes . But “TSB testing showed that this number would not have provided sufficient retarding force to hold the train once the air pressure in the independent brake system was reduced.” In fact, the TSB concluded that, depending on various scenarios, the engineer would have needed to apply between 12 and 26 hand brakes in order to hold the train.

The TSB report speculated that Harding

was not fully conversant with relevant rules and special instructions on train securement. Although the LE’s results from his requalification tests indicated that he had correctly answered questions relating to the minimum number of hand brakes, these questions were relatively simple and did not demonstrate that the LE possessed knowledge of the significance and rationale behind the rules. Furthermore, the LE was never tested on the procedures for performing a hand brake effectiveness test, nor did the company’s Operational Tests and Inspections (OTIS) Program confirm that hand brake effectiveness tests were being conducted correctly. In addition, the LE did not have all of the required documents with him on board the train, and could not easily refer to rules and company instructions.

Rail employees were required to pass re-certification exams every three years. According to the TSB report, the multiple choice re-qualification exam “repeated the same question on the minimum number of hand brakes for leaving unattended equipment. They did not have questions on the hand brake effectiveness test, the conditions requiring application of more than the minimum number of hand brakes, nor the stipulation that air brakes cannot be relied upon to prevent an undesired movement.” Hopkins notes that this type of “competency based training” just allows for specific knowledge of procedures, but does not test for understanding of the process.

So in summary, determining how many hand brakes to set is complicated, training is problematic, re-certification exams don’t test for competency or understanding of the whole complex process of securing a train.

Single Person Train Operation (SPTO): Harding, as mentioned above was the Lead Engineer, and also the lone crew member on the giant 72 car train. SPTO is permitted in Canada, and although the TSB could not find any evidence that SPTO led to the incident, they did describe some of the problems with it:

There are also demonstrated risks to SPTO, including reduced joint compliance (which can help catch errors), a tendency to take shortcuts, additional physical and time-related requirements for a single person to perform tasks, the possibility that individuals working alone will be subject to fatigue and cognitive degradations, and the need for additional training to properly prepare Lead Engineers (LEs) to work alone. It is also important to consider how a single operator might deal with the abnormal conditions that may arise, as well as whether all safety-critical tasks (such as the application of hand brakes and the performance of a hand brake effectiveness test) can be performed in a reasonable amount of time.

The TSB also noted that “The minimum hand brake requirement was more consistently met when trains were operated by 2 crew members.” Finally, the reported noted that although TC Canada (the regulatory agency) had required that MMA conduct a risk assessment of SPTO, “TC did not follow up to verify that the mitigation measures identified in MMA’s risk assessment had been implemented and were effective.”

Would another crew member on board the train have made a difference? Would two heads have been better than one in determining the correct number of hand brakes? If there were two crew members at the hotel, would one of them been able to return to the train and realize that another engine needed to be started to secure the air brakes? Who knows?

Megantic worker
TSB Findings
Oversight: The TSB report also criticized the railroad’s regulatory body, TC Canada’s (and more specifically TC Quebec’s), for weak oversight of MMA, despite the fact that “for several years, MMA had been identified as a railway company with an elevated level of risk requiring more frequent inspections.” TC Canada had identified several repeated problems in the past, including problems with train securement (identified on multiple occasions since 2005), , and were still present at the time of the accident, training deficiencies, and problems with track conditions. And “TC Quebec Region did not follow up to ensure that recurring safety deficiencies at MMA were effectively analyzed and corrected; consequently, unsafe practices persisted.”

The Other Rail Employees

In addition to Harding, rail traffic controller (RTC) Richard Labrie and manager of train operations Jean Demaitre also face 47 counts of criminal negligence causing death. Labrie was the main rail employee that Harding communicated with that night. According to the TSB report, Labrie

was aware that no locomotive was left running. “However, he knew that train securement should not be dependent on a running locomotive, and assumed that the train had been adequately secured with sufficient hand brakes. Without a compelling cue to the contrary, the RTC did not consider that shutting down the locomotives would affect the securement of the train.

RTC’s are a also a critical component of safe Single Person Train Operation (SPTO) — the lone engineer is supposed to be in frequent contact with the RTC. But the report also noted serious shortcomings in implementation of SPTO safety procedures:

The SPTO training did not include a review of securement rules and instructions. Furthermore, no job task analysis was discussed with employees, nor were all of the potential hazards associated with the tasks identified, notably the risks associated with single-operator train securement at the end of a shift. Consequently, no mitigation measure was identified for this critical task, such as confirming with an RTC how a train was secured, or even questioning the practice of leaving a train on the main track in Nantes when securement relied on a single operator.

Furthermore, although MMS had a process where supervisors could conduct unannounced monitoring of employees for adherence to railway safety rules and instructions. But no such inspection had ever occurred to ensure proper train securement in the area of Lac Megantic. Labrie reported to Demaitre, the manager of train operations.

Conclusion

OK, I could go on and on about addition issues that the TSB report raises (tank care integrity, track condition, lack of audits, and on and on), but I think we’ve discussed enough. What we have here in a nutshell is a railroad that cut corners on safety and maintenance wherever it could, a lousy training program for a very complicated, safety sensitive operation. and an oversight agency that didn’t do very good oversight.

In other words, only the most superficial analysis of this horrible tragedy would conclude that Tom Harding, the Lead Engineer and sole crew member, should be blamed for the deaths of 47 people, dragged into jail, prosecuted and possibly sent to prison for the rest of his life. It may make some people feel good, and it may take the blame off of others. But it will do nothing to prevent future catastrophes.

That’s no way to run a railroad.

More information on the Campaign to Defend the Lac-Mégantic workers here.

Support the scapegoated Lac-Mégantic rail workers! All our safety and health depends upon it.
http://hardingdefense.org
Donate now!

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admin August 5, 2017Uncategorized
Safe Rail and Sustainable Communities
Music Benefit for Lac-Mégantic Rail Worker Defense a great success!
Over $1700 raised kicking off fund drive for defense of the scapegoated rail workers and fighting for safe rails everywhere.
Get an event together in your community. Join the fight for the true story about the causes of the Lac-Mégantic wreck.
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admin July 12, 2017Uncategorized
Music for Rail Safety
On the night of July 6th, 2013, dozens of family members and neighbors gathered at a great little music club called the Musi-Cafe at the town center to hear bands.

In the blink of an eye almost all of them were incinerated by the explosion and fiery inferno resulting from a wrecked train of mislabeled volatile Bakken oil. The next day this is what the Musi-Cafe looked like.

In the aftermath, the railroad and the government has sought to blame the employees for the natural result of the combined reckless work rules and policies that undercut safety and even basic common sense.

Tomorrow, Sunday, July 9th, crowds of rail supporters will gather at the Dew Drop Inn in DC to hear bands. The music, happy hour, food and good times will be great. Every railroader deserves and could use that kind of good time.

But that good time will be for a purpose that will impact all of our futures. The threats we must face include under funding, destruction of infrastructure, risky work schedules, cram down work contracts, cuts to Railroad Retirement and the list continues.

Remember Lac-Mégantic but fight like hell so it never happens in another town. Fight for a rail bypass of the town of Lac-Mégantic because the railroad and government have completely failed them and they deserve relief.

The wrong men are on trial this fall. Justice for Lac-Mégantic AND rail safety going forwards requires real accountability for dangerous railroad manager policies.

Please donate and build local support for the defense.

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admin July 8, 2017Uncategorized
Music Benefit for Safe Rails and Sustainable Communities
A fundraiser to benefit the defense of the scapegoated
Lac-Mégantic Rail Workers

Featuring the U-Liners

with Tom & Elisabeth

4 years after the devastating oil train wreck that destroyed the town of Lac-Mégantic in Quebec, two railroad workers face criminal charges for a tragedy caused by unsafe railroad management policies.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

6:30 pm-8:15 pm

Dew Drop Inn

2801 8th St NE (below Franklin St)

Washington DC

Suggested donation: $20 (please contribute what you can)

Proceeds support the Lac-Mégantic Rail Workers Defense

https://tinyurl.com/Harding-Labrie-Defense

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admin July 3, 2017Uncategorized
Summer of Solidarity and Rail Safety
How many more have to die?
July 6th this year marks four years since a runaway train carrying volatile Bakken crude crashed and burned in the small town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, killing 47 and destroying half the town. It’s time to recommit to making sure tragedies like this don’t happen again. It’s also the right time to speak up against the criminal trial beginning September 11th this year, that unfairly and inaccurately hangs the Lac-Mégantic crash on two railroad workers, Tom Harding and Richard Labrie.

Railroad managers push hard to squeeze every dollar they can out of every train run. The Lac-Mégantic train had a dangerous cargo, overlong train, defective equipment, a single crew-member and work rules that cut the margin of safety down to just about zero. The result was a disaster that still impacts the Lac-Mégantic community.

Multiple government safety investigations and independent journalists looked at what happened in Lac-Mégantic and came to the same conclusion. Railroad management policies made this kind of runaway train crash likely to happen sooner or later. Lax government oversight looked the other way until it did.

You would think that four years later there would be stronger safety regulations on every railroad, with extra layers of protection for dangerous cargo. Sadly, this is not the case. Railroad policymakers are still cutting corners and government regulators are still looking the other way. They want people to believe that the big safety problem is a few careless railroad workers. But in Lac-Mégantic, SINCE the wreck, the supposedly safely restored wreck curve has now deteriorated and keeps that community at risk. Everyone there tightens up when a train passes now.

Even after all the reports and exposes, the Canadian and Quebec governments are still not going after the railroad policy makers and their unsafe policies. The managers who made the critical policies will not even get a slap on the wrist. That’s just wrong, and it guarantees that the danger continues. Every year since the crash, the number of reported runaway trains in Canada has increased. That’s a sign of a reckless culture, not the actions of two rail-road workers one night in Quebec.

Whether your main issue is the environment, community safety, rail safety, or worker’s rights, it comes down to stronger government regulations and stronger railroad safety policies, with real community and labor enforcement. The two railroad workers were not the cause of the Lac-Mégantic crash or any of the runaway trains since then. They are not the ones still running trains right through the town of Lac-Mégantic, ignoring the demands of the survivors for a simple rail bypass. The people in Lac-Mégantic know that sending Harding and Labrie to prison won’t address any of their problems with the railroad. But if that happens, you can bet the government will close the book as the official verdict on Lac-Mégantic and railroad management will be standing there with them.

When you hold public commemorations this year, we ask you to make this point your way. Blaming Harding and Labrie for the Lac-Mégantic tragedy weakens all of us and all our causes. So all of us have to speak up.

Donate now to help ensure a vigorous and fair legal defense
Justice for Lac-Mégantic requires Dropping the Charges Against Harding & Labrie
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admin July 3, 2017Uncategorized
September 13th: Thousands petition to Drop the Charges Against Harding and Labrie

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September 13, 2016, supporters representing over 2200 petitioners from across North America attended court proceedings in Sherbrooke QC, calling for the dropping of criminal charges against Harding and Labrie and prosecution of the policy makers and real culprits responsible for the Lac-Mégantic train wreck in 2o13.

Almost 2800 petition signers, including public officials, rail safety activists, community activists as well as labor union members in rail and other industries ultimately took part in the campaign for justice, rail safety and real accountability for the tragedy. Petitions were delivered to representatives of the Crown prosecutors at the hearing and continued to be delivered as they came in into October.

The September 13th hearing set the date and scope for the criminal trial phase, beginning September 11, 2017.

Prosecutors in the case face mounting public dissent concerning the scapegoating of Harding and Labrie as well as legal challenges due to the maneuvers of the bankrupt Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railroad (MMA). The policy decision makers of the MMA who are now known to have directed the actions that led to the wreck are free of charge and operating rail operations elsewhere including in the United States.

harding-13th-press-release-final

Supporters to Demand “Drop the Charges – Focus on Rail Safety” at Court Hearing on Lac-Mégantic Tragedy

Committee will deliver thousands of petitions calling for the Canadian and Quebec authorities to drop the charges against railroad workers Tom Harding and Richard Labrie

For Immediate Release: Thursday, September 8, 2016

Contact: Fritz Edler, justice@hardingdefense.org, (202) 494-3848

Time: Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Place: Palais de Justice, 375 Rue King Ouest (corner of King and Belvédère), Sherbrooke, QC

(Sherbrooke, QC)-Representatives of the Harding and Labrie Defense Committee, Railroad Workers United (RWU) and community allies from the Lac Mégantic area will be at the procedural hearings at the Palais de Justice in Sherbrooke, QC on September 13th, 2016 carrying petitions signed by over 2000 people across North America calling for ending the prosecution of Canadian railworkers Tom Harding and Richard Labrie. Harding and Labrie have been targeted and charged under the Criminal Code as well as the Railroad Safety Act and other laws. The charges could result in prison terms up to life.

“Investigations have already determined that the actions of these two were not the predominate cause the Lac-Mégantic tragedy,” said Committee representative Fritz Edler, a 35-year veteran train engineer. “The runaway train that killed 47 and destroyed half the town was the result of railroad managerial irresponsibility compounded by a failure of government oversight and safety regulation. There was a lax safety culture that has to change.”

The irresponsible practice of sending out unit trains of the most volatile kind with only a single crew member illustrates the disregard for public safety by the Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railroad (MMA) whose most important policymakers have had no legal penalty.

“The number of runaway trains reported across Canada has increased every year since Lac­ Mégantic,” Edler added. “It’s no wonder the people of Lac Mégantic have no confidence in the current actions of the railroad companies or the government agencies to keep them safe, and are calling for the tracks to detour around the town rather than run through it.”

Supporters will gather at 9 am on September 13th in the Palais de Justice Square in Sherbrooke to present the petitions. After the procedural hearing, Harding’s legal defense team will update supporters on the latest developments in the case.

###

The Harding and Labrie Defense Committee was formed in 2015 to organize defense for Canadian Rail Steelworkers Tom Harding and Richard Labrie; who have been scapegoated for the tragic Lac-Mégantic trainwreck in 2013. Facts developed since the wreck by investigators for the Government and independent journalists make clear that railroad policies were responsible for creating the culture of negligence that led to that disaster.

Railroad Workers United (RWU) is a North American cross-craft solidarity and advocacy organization of railworkers and their supporters. RWU members and supporters on railroads across North America are monitoring the Harding/Labrie case closely. RWU believes jailing Harding and Labrie will be an obstacle to current day safety culture on Canada’s railways, as well as a roadblock to getting full accountability for the Mégantic wreck.

For more information, visit www.hardingdefense.org or follow us on Twitter @harding_labrie

admin September 9, 2016Uncategorized0
Two Weeks – Two Fronts in Fight for Rail Safety
June 20 – Drop the Charges July 6th – No More Lac-Mégantics

Three years ago, on July 6, 2013, a small town in Quebec became a symbol of the need for greater focus on rail safety throughout North America. A runaway Bakken oil train exploded and burned in the downtown. 47 people were killed immediately and another 3 have taken their own lives in the last three years in the devastating aftermath which has left a legacy of destruction and environmental damage which will never be truly overcome.

The Lac-Mégantic tragedy will be back in the news twice in a matter of weeks. The Citizens Coalition in Lac-Mégantic has called for July 6th this year to be a day of remembrance for the victims of the crash and a day to recommit to greater rail safety. Railroad workers, environmental activists and other community groups concerned about railroad safety will express their solidarity by answering that call and take time out on July 6th to say No More Lac-Mégantics. Railroad Workers United will join with others on July 6th in Chicago for a special forum on rail safety centered on the issues raised in Lac-Mégantic. Actions are underway in other cities as well.

This commemoration will come just two weeks after the latest events in a legal battle that should have ended long ago – the drive to scapegoat railroad workers and let unsafe railroad policies off the hook.

Everybody wanted to know what was responsible for the tragedy. People called for a complete and thorough investigation to determine the facts and the guilty parties. But the Canadian government jumped the gun and theatrically charged the engineer, Tom Harding, and his dispatcher, Richard Labrie with 47 counts of criminal negligence resulting in death.

Ultimately investigation by the Canadian Transportation Safety Board and courageous investigative reporters turned up serious evidence that laid the responsibility for the crash at the feet of decisions and policies of the railroad company, the Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway (MMA). These unsafe corporate policies and decisions had been ignored or even endorsed by the Canadian regulators responsible for overseeing rail safety.

The evidence is now very clear. The actions of Engineer Tom Harding and dispatcher Richard Labrie DID NOT cause the Lac-Mégantic wreck. If the MMA hadn’t imposed unsafe procedures on its train crews, with Transport Canada regulators looking the other way, there would not have been a runaway train and explosion in Lac-Mégantic.

The MMA was not the only party taking shortcuts. On June 20th this year, Tom Harding’s lawyer is going to court to address the Canadian government’s rush to judgement. Crown Prosecutors used loopholes to avoid holding a Preliminary Hearing, which would have given the defendants an opportunity to challenge the supposed evidence and preview the theory of the prosecution. A Preliminary Hearing would have been normal in most proceedings of this kind. Harding’s lawyer is now forced to present a motion for “Disclosure”, as well as a motion to “Stay the Proceedings”, based in part on the denial of Harding’s right to a Preliminary Hearing. Even if the Court grants Harding’s defense motions (the Crown has filed motions to “quash” them) it will not be the end of the need for us to use every means to get out the word about this wrongful prosecution going forward.

If railroading Tom Harding and Richard Labrie to prison wasn’t bad enough, the Canadian government has blocked the efforts of the Citizens Coalition of Lac-Mégantic to move the railroad tracks from the center of town and to make real rail safety a top priority going forward. The government wants to narrow the issue to oil trains and declare the danger over. But rail safety is not just about unsafe cargo. The people who live by the tracks and those who run the trains must be party to determining whether safe conditions are maintained.

The Canadian government must stop the prosecution of railroad workers for a tragedy they did not cause, and they and the U.S. government must speed up addressing unsafe railroad practices and conditions in Lac-Mégantic and everywhere. Every Railroad worker and everyone who cares about railroad safety has a stake in the outcome of this. We all need to be watching what happens in the courtroom on June 20th and be prepared to stand up for rail safety on July 6th.

Drop the Charges – No More Lac-Mégantics
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admin June 17, 2016Uncategorized
Sign the Petition!
Drop the Charges against Tom Harding and Richard Labrie

Target: The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and the Honourable Stéphanie Vallée, Minister of Justice, QC

Tags: steroidsLac Mégantic
Categories: Labor News

Barcelona Dockworkers Refuse to Operate Police Ship Sent to Thwart Referendum

Current News - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 22:08

Barcelona Dockworkers Refuse to Operate Police Ship Sent to Thwart Referendum
http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=2443620&CategoryId=12395

BARCELONA – Barcelona dockworkers announced on Thursday that, in order to defend civil rights, they had voted not to operate a cruise ship charted by Spain’s interior ministry to house police reinforcements sent to the Catalonia region ahead of a contentious independence referendum.

The Rhapsody cruise ship, which can hold up to 2,500 passengers, was currently sat in Barcelona’s port.

“In a general assembly, Barcelona’s stevedores have voted not to operate the Rhapsody ship in defense of civil rights,” the Barcelona dockworker union, OEPB, announced on its official Twitter.

A total of four cruise ships charted by the Spanish government were sat off the coast of Catalonia to house the extra police officers sent to the affluent northeastern region of Spain.

Sources at Barcelona’s port said the stevedores’ decision would have repercussions, but pointed out that this union is usually charged with unloading cargo ships rather than cruise ships such as the Rhapsody, which does not require the same process in order to dock and unload.

Political tensions were running high in Catalonia, where the regional separatist forces are pushing for an independence referendum to be held on Oct. 1.

The move has been ruled illegal by the national government and the Spanish courts.

Pro-separatist protests escalated on Wednesday after several senior officials in the regional government were arrested during police raids to confiscate all material related to the referendum.

Tags: Barcelona Dockworkerscivil rightspolice repression
Categories: Labor News

Barcelona Dockworkers Refuse to Operate Police Ship Sent to Thwart Referendum

Current News - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 22:08

Barcelona Dockworkers Refuse to Operate Police Ship Sent to Thwart Referendum
http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=2443620&CategoryId=12395

BARCELONA – Barcelona dockworkers announced on Thursday that, in order to defend civil rights, they had voted not to operate a cruise ship charted by Spain’s interior ministry to house police reinforcements sent to the Catalonia region ahead of a contentious independence referendum.

The Rhapsody cruise ship, which can hold up to 2,500 passengers, was currently sat in Barcelona’s port.

“In a general assembly, Barcelona’s stevedores have voted not to operate the Rhapsody ship in defense of civil rights,” the Barcelona dockworker union, OEPB, announced on its official Twitter.

A total of four cruise ships charted by the Spanish government were sat off the coast of Catalonia to house the extra police officers sent to the affluent northeastern region of Spain.

Sources at Barcelona’s port said the stevedores’ decision would have repercussions, but pointed out that this union is usually charged with unloading cargo ships rather than cruise ships such as the Rhapsody, which does not require the same process in order to dock and unload.

Political tensions were running high in Catalonia, where the regional separatist forces are pushing for an independence referendum to be held on Oct. 1.

The move has been ruled illegal by the national government and the Spanish courts.

Pro-separatist protests escalated on Wednesday after several senior officials in the regional government were arrested during police raids to confiscate all material related to the referendum.

Tags: Barcelona Dockworkerscivil rightspolice repression
Categories: Labor News

Egypt: International trade unions urge Egypt to release detainees

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The National Post
Categories: Labor News

This Lawyer Helped Reagan Bust the Air Traffic Controllers Union. Now Trump Wants Him on the NLRB.

Current News - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 04:53

This Lawyer Helped Reagan Bust the Air Traffic Controllers Union. Now Trump Wants Him on the NLRB.
HTTP://INTHESETIMES.COM/WORKING/ENTRY/20540/RONALD-REAGAN-AIR-TRAFFIC-CONTROLLERS-UNION-BUSTING-PATCO-NLRB
THURSDAY, SEP 21, 2017, 2:25 PM
BY MICHAEL ARRIA

Members of PATCO, the air traffic controllers union, hold hands and raise their arms as their deadline to return to work passes. All strikers were fired on the order of President Reagan on August 5, 1981. (Photo: Getty Images)

Former President Ronald Reagan had a long history of clashing with organized labor, but his most infamous moment came in 1981, when he busted the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) and fired more than 11,300 air traffic controllers who were on strike. This act weakened the power of U.S. unions and set the stage for an all-out assault on organizing rights.

Thirty-six years later, Reagan’s lead attorney in the air traffic controllers case is poised to make decisions about thousands of unfair labor practices throughout the country.

As anticipated, President Donald Trump has nominated the management-side labor attorney Peter Robb, of Downs Rachlin Martin in Vermont, to serve as general counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). This is a four-year position, and the individual who holds it is responsible for investigating unfair labor practices. Obama administration general counsel Richard Griffin’s term expires this November and, if confirmed, Robb would take over the position.

In 1981, Robb filed unfair labor practice charges against PATCO on behalf of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) after a court ruled that the air traffic controllers’ strike was illegal. The FLRA case led to the decertification of PATCO, and Reagan subsequently banned most striking workers from federal service for their rest of their lives.

Reagan’s move set a new precedent for employers, emboldening them to attack labor more openly. In an interview with The Real News Network from 2014, Joseph McCartin, Georgetown history professor and author of Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike that Changed America, explainedthe long-term impact. “When Ronald Reagan replaced the air traffic controllers [in] 1981, it was still not common for American employers in the private sector to deal with strikes by trying to break them and by permanently replacing workers who'd gone out on strike,” said McCartin, “Employers saw that Reagan was able to do this and, in effect, get away with it. Many private-sector employers took a similarly hard line when workers went out on strike in the private sector.”

Robb’s connections to union busting certainly don’t end with the landmark PATCO case. In 2014, he was hired by the Dominion Nuclear power plant when the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) began organizing workers. The Downs Rachlin Martin website contains a blurb boasting that Robb “represented a major national corporation in a National Labor Relations Board representation case proceeding, which had 34-days of hearing over 3 months to resolve 80 contested classifications covering hundreds of employees.”

In an interview this September, John Fernandes, a business manager for IBEW Local 457, told Bloomberg BNA that Robb represented used “scorched earth” tactics to thwart the organizing efforts. Fernandes says the plant added workers to the proposed unit in order to water down the union vote and sent videos of managers explaining the dangers of unionizing to the homes of employees. Ultimately, the plant was able to add more than 150 workers to the original petition and defeat the organizing drive.

“[Robb] handled most of the direct examinations, and his witnesses were well-schooled in advance—he’d ask one question and they’d go on forever,” Fernandes toldBloomberg BNA. “I was at a disadvantage, not being an attorney, but [the legal fees] would’ve been overwhelming for our local to pay … we certainly viewed it as union busting—it was a very long case.”

Robb also has previous connections to the NLRB. He worked as an NLRB field attorney in Baltimore during the late 1970s. He returned to the agency in 1982 as a staff lawyer and chief counsel for former member Robert Hunter. As a Republican, Hunter was an important ally to then-Chairman Donald Dotson, a staunchly anti-union member. In 1985, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told The Washington Post that Hunter had been the, “most loyal supporter of Donald Dotson in the transformation of the NLRB into a fundamentally anti-union entity.”

More recently, Robb’s firm harshly criticized the Obama-era NLRB, as captured in a slideshow compiled by Robb and Downs Rachlin attorney Timothy Copeland Jr. The presentation took aim at some of the pro-labor positions made by the NLRB under the previous administration. “The [Democratic] NLRB majority continues to narrowly define NLRB supervisory status, sometimes defying all common sense,” one slide reads. New Republican members are “likely to agree that the Obama board went too far,” the slideshow explained.

One of the decisions that Robb objects to is a 2014 rule that cuts back the amount of time between the filing of a unionization petition and the union vote to 11 days. The GOP has been attempting to extend the number of days to at least 35. This move would give businesses more time to construct a plan to stomp out union activity, like the aforementioned Dominion Nuclear strategy.

“The NLRB has made it clear that the intent of the new regulations is to run an election as quickly as possible which, of course, will give the employer the shortest period of time to respond to a union election petition,” Robb and three other Downs Rachlin lawyers wrote in a 2015 advisory.

The Trump administration has already quietly laid the groundwork for the NLRB to emerge as a much more business-friendly entity. This reality was underscored in August, when Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta announced that Ronald Reagan would be inducted into the department’s hall of fame. Trump’s previous NLRB nominees all have connections to union-busting, and the expected nomination of Robb would effectively make the NLRB—responsible for enforcing labor law—an anti-labor agency.

MICHAEL ARRIA
Michael Arria covers labor and social movements. Follow him on Twitter: @michaelarria

Tags: nlrbPATCOunion busting
Categories: Labor News

Former NYC TWU 100 President John Samuelsen elected as president of Transport Workers Union

Current News - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 22:14

Former NYC TWU 100 President John Samuelsen elected as president of Transport Workers Union
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/john-samuelsen-elected-president-tra...
TWU president John Samuelsen speaking after winning his first full four-year term as president of the union.
TWU president John Samuelsen speaking after winning his first full four-year term as president of the union. (ALAN SALY)
BY
GINGER ADAMS OTIS
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Tuesday, September 26, 2017, 8:18 PM
Transport Workers Union members elected John Samuelsen to his first four-year term as president Tuesday at the union’s annual convention in Las Vegas attended by Gov. Cuomo.

Samuelsen, a former track worker who became the head of TWU Local 100, stepped into the role of international president in May 2017 when the incumbent retired mid-term.

He faced one challenger on Tuesday, Joe Campbell, former TWU chairman of the car equipment division and staffer under Samuelsen’s predecessor Roger Touissant.

Samuelsen won by a landslide, 364 to 36.

His slate won by a similar decisive margin, the union said. Cuomo spoke at the TWU convention ahead of the vote.

Samuelsen is currently embroiled in a contentious organizing drive with flight attendants at JetBlue airlines, which is based in New York

TWU has already organized two other airlines, Allegiant and Southwest.Taking aim at airlines that “act like the robber barons of the 1880s,” is a main priority for Samuelsen now that he’s got a four-year term ahead of him, he told the Daily News.

Samuelsen is battling to organize JetBlue flight attendants.
Samuelsen is battling to organize JetBlue flight attendants. (SETH WENIG/AP)
“We are investing huge amounts of resources into JetBlue. It’s top of our list,” he said.

“I have my own way of doing things, and we’re going to bring that style to the national union, and we’re going after the nearly 5,000 unorganized JetBlue flight attendants who have no union working for them,” he said.

JetBlue’s management has not been welcoming to TWU.

It began distributing flyers and emailing staffers with its own messaging — namely, that inviting in a “third-party” union was a bad idea.

Union, MTA to talk safety at hearing after worker's death

“TWU is an opportunistic and negative third party,” the airline wrote to inflight crew in a recent “Note from John,” a message from vice president John Culp.

The flyer blamed TWU’s “corporate strategists” in D.C. for stirring up drama and said the union’s leaders have a history of “criminal behavior” and labor violations.

“Keep in mind that a card is a legal document that you can’t take back: If you sign one today and change your mind tomorrow, you can't get it back. You do not need to sign a card to participate in a union election,” the “Note from John said.

Workers congratulate TWU president John Samuelsen after a landslide vote in his favor Tuesday.
Workers congratulate TWU president John Samuelsen after a landslide vote in his favor Tuesday. (PETE DONOHUE)
“Expect to hear lots of empty promises from the TWU,” it added, and warned that TWU union members are “known to harass” and use “extremely aggressive tactics.”

MTA permitted to ban transit union ads demanding pay raise

Samuelsen said the negative messaging from management was a sign his campaign was gaining ground.

“We don’t organize from the top down — this whole drive is from the ground up. We’ve met with various organizing committees in JetBlue and the JetBlue workers are doing a really good job of standing up for themselves,” he said. “This is no third-party outsider coming in to stir up trouble, it’s an employee-driven campaign to get better rights and working conditions,” he said.

JetBlue’s note also criticized TWU for abandoning other workers it organized in airlines out West and in the South.

“Other airline employees have been left high and dry by the TWU,” JetBlue wrote, pointing specifically to Allegiant and Southwest.

Transit union boss backs cheaper MetroCard fares for the poor

Samuelsen said his union had seen and already issued a rebuttal to JetBlue’s “misinformation” campaign.

The TWU has two solid contracts with Southwest covering 12,000 ground workers and 15,000 airline attendants, he said.

A JetBlue flyer to crewmembers warning them of the dangers of joining TWU.
A JetBlue flyer to crewmembers warning them of the dangers of joining TWU.(HANDOUT)
In a scenario familiar to him from his time as a track worker for NYC Transit, he said the airline had too heavy a hand with discipline of its crews.

“The ground workers in particular are having big disciplinary problems ... the bosses think they can run the crews into the ground with an oppressive management style,” he said.

NYC transit workers ratify new MTA contract increasing raises

“Until now, they’ve not met with the proper resistance, they have had it their way. Now they’re going to run into a new TWU leadership,” he said.

At Allegiant, TWU successfully organized the workers but has yet to get the airline to the table to hammer out a collectively-bargained contract.

At all three airlines, Samuelsen said, the union was planning to pour in additional resources.

“They think they can treat workers any way they want and they’ve gotten away with it for too long without facing the sharp end of a well-financed strategic campaign,” he said.

Transit Workers Union's 10-point plan to help fix NYC subways

An Allegiant spokeswoman confirmed that TWU had organized its flight attendants but had not yet gotten a contract.

“We are as committed as ever to continuing to negotiate in good faith, and are optimistic that we will have a contract soon. We are currently in mediation with a mediator from the National Mediation Board,” the spokeswoman said.

Emails to JetBlue and Southwest were not immediately returned.

Tags: TWUJohn SamuelsonTWU 100
Categories: Labor News

Former NYC TWU 100 President John Samuelsen elected as president of Transport Workers Union

Current News - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 22:14

Former NYC TWU 100 President John Samuelsen elected as president of Transport Workers Union
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/john-samuelsen-elected-president-tra...
TWU president John Samuelsen speaking after winning his first full four-year term as president of the union.
TWU president John Samuelsen speaking after winning his first full four-year term as president of the union. (ALAN SALY)
BY
GINGER ADAMS OTIS
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Tuesday, September 26, 2017, 8:18 PM
Transport Workers Union members elected John Samuelsen to his first four-year term as president Tuesday at the union’s annual convention in Las Vegas attended by Gov. Cuomo.

Samuelsen, a former track worker who became the head of TWU Local 100, stepped into the role of international president in May 2017 when the incumbent retired mid-term.

He faced one challenger on Tuesday, Joe Campbell, former TWU chairman of the car equipment division and staffer under Samuelsen’s predecessor Roger Touissant.

Samuelsen won by a landslide, 364 to 36.

His slate won by a similar decisive margin, the union said. Cuomo spoke at the TWU convention ahead of the vote.

Samuelsen is currently embroiled in a contentious organizing drive with flight attendants at JetBlue airlines, which is based in New York

TWU has already organized two other airlines, Allegiant and Southwest.Taking aim at airlines that “act like the robber barons of the 1880s,” is a main priority for Samuelsen now that he’s got a four-year term ahead of him, he told the Daily News.

Samuelsen is battling to organize JetBlue flight attendants.
Samuelsen is battling to organize JetBlue flight attendants. (SETH WENIG/AP)
“We are investing huge amounts of resources into JetBlue. It’s top of our list,” he said.

“I have my own way of doing things, and we’re going to bring that style to the national union, and we’re going after the nearly 5,000 unorganized JetBlue flight attendants who have no union working for them,” he said.

JetBlue’s management has not been welcoming to TWU.

It began distributing flyers and emailing staffers with its own messaging — namely, that inviting in a “third-party” union was a bad idea.

Union, MTA to talk safety at hearing after worker's death

“TWU is an opportunistic and negative third party,” the airline wrote to inflight crew in a recent “Note from John,” a message from vice president John Culp.

The flyer blamed TWU’s “corporate strategists” in D.C. for stirring up drama and said the union’s leaders have a history of “criminal behavior” and labor violations.

“Keep in mind that a card is a legal document that you can’t take back: If you sign one today and change your mind tomorrow, you can't get it back. You do not need to sign a card to participate in a union election,” the “Note from John said.

Workers congratulate TWU president John Samuelsen after a landslide vote in his favor Tuesday.
Workers congratulate TWU president John Samuelsen after a landslide vote in his favor Tuesday. (PETE DONOHUE)
“Expect to hear lots of empty promises from the TWU,” it added, and warned that TWU union members are “known to harass” and use “extremely aggressive tactics.”

MTA permitted to ban transit union ads demanding pay raise

Samuelsen said the negative messaging from management was a sign his campaign was gaining ground.

“We don’t organize from the top down — this whole drive is from the ground up. We’ve met with various organizing committees in JetBlue and the JetBlue workers are doing a really good job of standing up for themselves,” he said. “This is no third-party outsider coming in to stir up trouble, it’s an employee-driven campaign to get better rights and working conditions,” he said.

JetBlue’s note also criticized TWU for abandoning other workers it organized in airlines out West and in the South.

“Other airline employees have been left high and dry by the TWU,” JetBlue wrote, pointing specifically to Allegiant and Southwest.

Transit union boss backs cheaper MetroCard fares for the poor

Samuelsen said his union had seen and already issued a rebuttal to JetBlue’s “misinformation” campaign.

The TWU has two solid contracts with Southwest covering 12,000 ground workers and 15,000 airline attendants, he said.

A JetBlue flyer to crewmembers warning them of the dangers of joining TWU.
A JetBlue flyer to crewmembers warning them of the dangers of joining TWU.(HANDOUT)
In a scenario familiar to him from his time as a track worker for NYC Transit, he said the airline had too heavy a hand with discipline of its crews.

“The ground workers in particular are having big disciplinary problems ... the bosses think they can run the crews into the ground with an oppressive management style,” he said.

NYC transit workers ratify new MTA contract increasing raises

“Until now, they’ve not met with the proper resistance, they have had it their way. Now they’re going to run into a new TWU leadership,” he said.

At Allegiant, TWU successfully organized the workers but has yet to get the airline to the table to hammer out a collectively-bargained contract.

At all three airlines, Samuelsen said, the union was planning to pour in additional resources.

“They think they can treat workers any way they want and they’ve gotten away with it for too long without facing the sharp end of a well-financed strategic campaign,” he said.

Transit Workers Union's 10-point plan to help fix NYC subways

An Allegiant spokeswoman confirmed that TWU had organized its flight attendants but had not yet gotten a contract.

“We are as committed as ever to continuing to negotiate in good faith, and are optimistic that we will have a contract soon. We are currently in mediation with a mediator from the National Mediation Board,” the spokeswoman said.

Emails to JetBlue and Southwest were not immediately returned.

Tags: TWUJohn SamuelsonTWU 100
Categories: Labor News

Korea (North): Forced labourers from North Korea help build a Danish warship

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Newsweek
Categories: Labor News

Qatar: HRW : Take Urgent Action to Protect Construction Workers

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Human Rights Watch
Categories: Labor News

South Africa: COSATU Strike and Demonstrations Against Corruption

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: COSATU
Categories: Labor News

Uber threatens to leave Quebec in protest at new rules for drivers

Current News - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 16:41

Uber threatens to leave Quebec in protest at new rules for drivers
Uber complains that 35-hour training requirement for drivers is unfair
Montreal mayor dismisses threat: ‘If they threaten to leave, I don’t care’
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/26/uber-threatens-leave-...
Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, Uber Quebec’s general manager, said: ‘What we know for sure is that if they impose 35 hours of training on us, we’ll need to leave.’
Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, Uber Quebec’s general manager, said: ‘What we know for sure is that if they impose 35 hours of training on us, we’ll need to leave.’ Photograph: Ryan Remiorz/AP
Ashifa Kassam in Toronto
@ashifa_k
Tuesday 26 September 2017 14.15 EDTLast modified on Tuesday 26 September 2017 14.58 EDT
Uber says it will stop operating in the Canadian province of Quebec if authorities push forward with plans to demand additional training of its drivers.

Last week, the Quebec government announced legislation that would require Uber drivers to undergo 35 hours of mandatory training – an amount in line with taxi drivers in the province – rather than the 20 hours currently demanded of them.

The legislation, which would also force Uber drivers to have a criminal background check carried out by police rather than private security companies and have their cars inspected every 12 months, is expected to be tabled next week.

The new rules in Quebec come as the company wages a high-profile battle against the decision to strip it of its license to operate in London.In explaining their decision, Transport for London said that “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility”.

Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, the general manager of Uber Quebec, said the company worried that the training requirements could deter drivers from signing up.

“Can you imagine someone on Airbnb that is renting his apartment once, twice or three times month or three times a year?” Guillemette asked. “That person would not be required to take 35 hours of training. And it’s the same situation for these drivers, working for Uber.”

Unless the province scrapped the proposed legislation, he said the service would stop operating in Quebec as of 14 October. “We’re not here to negotiate in public – we don’t think that’s the right approach,” he said. “The goal here is for us to sit down with the government and find ways that you can continue to operate. But what we know for sure is that if they impose 35 hours of training on us, we’ll need to leave.”

Uber began operating in Quebec last year, as a one-year pilot project that included what Guillemette described as the “most restrictive and severe regulations imposed on us in North America”. Across Canada, the company’s entry into the market has been met with a patchwork of rules and regulations, with a lack of provincial legislation barring it from operating in Vancouver and Winnipeg. But Quebec is the only province that requires Uber drivers to undergo training, said Guillemette.

The service has racked up nearly a million users in Quebec and counts more than 50 full-time employees in the provincial office, said Guillemette. “Every week we have about 5,000 drivers that drive on the platform – it’s the equivalent of 3,000 full-time jobs.”

Uber’s platform – which allows drivers to be assessed after every ride – enables the company to target its driver training, said Guillemette. “What we’ve developed is an ongoing training program, depending on the needs of the driver,” he said. “We fully agree that training is something that is important … but by trying to impose the same thing that is currently done in the old taxi industry, I don’t think it helps us to move forward and serve the population.”

London’s decision to strip Uber of its license has prompted scrutiny of jurisdictions around the world for insight of what happens after Uber. One of the most vibrant examples comes from Austin, Texas, where Uber’s departure last year paved the way for several other ride-share systems to emerge.

In Quebec, Uber’s threat to leave the province was met with derision by some. “I don’t care,” Denis Coderre, the mayor of Montreal, told BNN news channel. “Frankly we need to have some regulation, and if they threaten to leave I don’t care.”

Tags: Uberregulationtraining
Categories: Labor News

Uber threatens to leave Quebec in protest at new rules for drivers

Current News - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 16:41

Uber threatens to leave Quebec in protest at new rules for drivers
Uber complains that 35-hour training requirement for drivers is unfair
Montreal mayor dismisses threat: ‘If they threaten to leave, I don’t care’
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/26/uber-threatens-leave-...
Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, Uber Quebec’s general manager, said: ‘What we know for sure is that if they impose 35 hours of training on us, we’ll need to leave.’
Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, Uber Quebec’s general manager, said: ‘What we know for sure is that if they impose 35 hours of training on us, we’ll need to leave.’ Photograph: Ryan Remiorz/AP
Ashifa Kassam in Toronto
@ashifa_k
Tuesday 26 September 2017 14.15 EDTLast modified on Tuesday 26 September 2017 14.58 EDT
Uber says it will stop operating in the Canadian province of Quebec if authorities push forward with plans to demand additional training of its drivers.

Last week, the Quebec government announced legislation that would require Uber drivers to undergo 35 hours of mandatory training – an amount in line with taxi drivers in the province – rather than the 20 hours currently demanded of them.

The legislation, which would also force Uber drivers to have a criminal background check carried out by police rather than private security companies and have their cars inspected every 12 months, is expected to be tabled next week.

The new rules in Quebec come as the company wages a high-profile battle against the decision to strip it of its license to operate in London.In explaining their decision, Transport for London said that “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility”.

Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, the general manager of Uber Quebec, said the company worried that the training requirements could deter drivers from signing up.

“Can you imagine someone on Airbnb that is renting his apartment once, twice or three times month or three times a year?” Guillemette asked. “That person would not be required to take 35 hours of training. And it’s the same situation for these drivers, working for Uber.”

Unless the province scrapped the proposed legislation, he said the service would stop operating in Quebec as of 14 October. “We’re not here to negotiate in public – we don’t think that’s the right approach,” he said. “The goal here is for us to sit down with the government and find ways that you can continue to operate. But what we know for sure is that if they impose 35 hours of training on us, we’ll need to leave.”

Uber began operating in Quebec last year, as a one-year pilot project that included what Guillemette described as the “most restrictive and severe regulations imposed on us in North America”. Across Canada, the company’s entry into the market has been met with a patchwork of rules and regulations, with a lack of provincial legislation barring it from operating in Vancouver and Winnipeg. But Quebec is the only province that requires Uber drivers to undergo training, said Guillemette.

The service has racked up nearly a million users in Quebec and counts more than 50 full-time employees in the provincial office, said Guillemette. “Every week we have about 5,000 drivers that drive on the platform – it’s the equivalent of 3,000 full-time jobs.”

Uber’s platform – which allows drivers to be assessed after every ride – enables the company to target its driver training, said Guillemette. “What we’ve developed is an ongoing training program, depending on the needs of the driver,” he said. “We fully agree that training is something that is important … but by trying to impose the same thing that is currently done in the old taxi industry, I don’t think it helps us to move forward and serve the population.”

London’s decision to strip Uber of its license has prompted scrutiny of jurisdictions around the world for insight of what happens after Uber. One of the most vibrant examples comes from Austin, Texas, where Uber’s departure last year paved the way for several other ride-share systems to emerge.

In Quebec, Uber’s threat to leave the province was met with derision by some. “I don’t care,” Denis Coderre, the mayor of Montreal, told BNN news channel. “Frankly we need to have some regulation, and if they threaten to leave I don’t care.”

Tags: Uberregulationtraining
Categories: Labor News

Japan Railway Workers Union Doro-Chiba Statement International Solidarity of Workers Can Stop War on Korean Peninsula! Overthrow warmongers Trump and Abe with angry workers uprising all over the world!

Current News - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 09:07

Japan Railway Workers Union Doro-Chiba Statement

International Solidarity of Workers Can Stop War on Korean Peninsula!

Overthrow warmongers Trump and Abe with angry workers uprising all over the world!

Workers all over the world!

A fresh war—a nuclear war—is imminent. Subsequent to the war in the Middle East, now a war on Korean Peninsula is about to break out. If a war erupts, the whole East Asia would become embroiled in an awfully devastating and bloody battlefield.

 The US Trump administration and the Japanese Abe administration have taken us to the brink of nuclear war. Since the division of Korean Peninsula into North and South after World War II against the will of Korean people, the US and Japan governments have been consistently hostile to North Korea and increasing military pressure on it even after the Korean War (1950~53). The US-Japan military alliance continues to make threats even by holding “beheading operation” and “nuclear first strike” over the Kim Jong-un regime, which, in its turn, is driving it to the last extremity to arm with nuclear weapons.

 To confront this serious situation, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) of South Korea issued a statement: “A nuclear showdown is not only a catastrophe for all people in both North and South but means an existential cataclysm for humankind that would spread into every corner of the world. We can never allow it to happen.” The KCTU strongly urges to rise up immediately with full force to “thoroughly get rid of the dark clouds of war looming over the Korean Peninsula and release North and South Korea from the long-years’ constraint of division.”

 Being scared by the impact of global economic crisis and Japan’s economic ruin, the Abe administration is trying to find the only way of survival in large expansion of armament and militarization of economy (dependence on war industry), revising the Constitution that would again enable Japan to launch an aggressive war in Asia. That is why Abe overtly denies the past war crimes including the comfort women issue, as if nothing had ever happened.

 Whatever the reason the Japanese government would put up, we should never allow it to embark in a war again on the Korean Peninsula and East Asia. This is the mission for us Japanese working class to be carried out resolutely.

 We declare our unity with the KCTU appeal, and are firmly determined in front of the workers all over the world that Japanese working class will overthrow the Abe administration and Japanese imperialism with our own hands.

The assaults of neoliberalism, which cares money than lives, has forcibly led to a rapid increase of massive unemployment, poverty, casualization and “karoshi” (death from overwork), and resulted in the collapse of whole social system such as education and medical care. Now, the violent practice of these onslaughts has gone far beyond the limit. Workers’ revolts for pursuing radical transformation of society have begun to spread all over the world. In the forefront, the struggle of South Korean working people has overthrown Park Geun-hye government.

 Summit talks between Trump and Abe to be held in Tokyo in November will give go-ahead to aggressive war on the Korean Peninsula. On November 5th, we will hold the annual international workers’ solidarity rally and demonstration in Tokyo together with participants from abroad to crush the Japan-U.S. summit talks for war.

 With the workers of Japan, Korea and the United States at the forefront, let’s stop the war before it starts by the strength of international solidarity and unity of workers of the whole world!

September 27th, 2017

Yasuhiro TANAKA, President of National Railway Motive Power Union of Chiba (Doro-Chiba)

Hiroyuki YAMAMOTO, General Secretary of Doro-Chiba International Labor Solidarity Committee

http://doro-chiba.org/english/english.htm

Tags: Doro-ChibaKCTUimperialismWar
Categories: Labor News

Request Governor's Signature for RM3

IBU - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 18:07
SB 595 (Beall), the bill to authorize Regional Measure 3 to invest in major congestion relief and mass transit improvement projects throughout the Bay Area passed the legislature.
Categories: Unions

Global: Nominations open for the 2018 Arthur Svensson Prize

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Industri Energi
Categories: Labor News

USA: Players’ unions are not backing down against Trump’s attack on athletes

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: UNI Global Union
Categories: Labor News

Mexico: $2-per-hour workers make $40,000 SUVs

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: CTV
Categories: Labor News

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