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In SF Taxi drivers add apps in their fight with Uber, Lyft

Current News - Tue, 08/05/2014 - 21:51

Taxi drivers add apps in their fight with Uber, Lyft
Competition for passengers intensifies
http://www.sfchronicle.com/technology/article/Taxi-drivers-add-apps-in-t...

By Carolyn Said

August 5, 2014 | Updated: August 5, 2014 5:44pm

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As John Lyman drives his Yellow Cab through the streets of San Francisco, he uses smartphone apps called Taxi Magic and Flywheel to help connect him with riders.

Both apps let passengers hail taxis simply by tapping their phones. Both are the beleaguered taxi industry's best hope to compete with tech-enabled upstarts like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, which have siphoned off their customers.

Now, as part of a push back against the disruptive startups, Taxi Magic is renaming itself Curb ( www.gocurb.com) and upgrading its app. Eventually it wants to expand to let passengers summon other forms of transport such as sedans and livery vehicles (as Uber already does).

"Apps are obviously where the taxi business is going," said Lyman, who has logged 20 years in the industry as a driver, dispatcher and manager. "The rides are more dependable. With calls that come in through dispatch, lots of people end up flagging the first thing that comes by (on the street) so they are no-gos. With apps, they can follow us on their phones and see we're coming, so they wait for us."

Ironically, both taxi apps predated Uber and Lyft, but didn't gain wide acceptance among drivers until the taxi business started to struggle against the new competition.

"Taxis failed to adjust fast enough as ride sharing came in," said Pat Lashinsky, the new CEO of Curb in Alexandria, Va., and former CEO of Emeryville's ZipRealty. "Consumers say taxis haven't changed much in the past 20 years, and that's something they haven't liked."

He sees the rivalry from the nonprofessional drivers in their own cars as a positive.

Tags: Ubercab driverstech
Categories: Labor News

Global: Jennings au FT: le monde entier a besoin d'une augmentation de salaire

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 08/05/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: UNI
Categories: Labor News

UK: VIDEO: Travelling to London? Check if your hotel pays the London Living Wage

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 08/05/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Unite the Union
Categories: Labor News

The Consequences of Reagan Breaking the 1981 Air Traffic Controllers Strike

Current News - Tue, 08/05/2014 - 15:22

The Consequences of Reagan Breaking the 1981 Air Traffic Controllers Strike
http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/25393-the-consequences-of-reagan-brea...
Tuesday, 05 August 2014 11:11
By Jessica Desvarieux, The Real News Network | Video Interview

JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.
Back in 1981, for those of you who remember, August 5 was the day that then-president Ronald Reagan fired more than 11,000 striking air traffic controllers. The air traffic controllers were fired two days after their union, PATCO, declared a strike. They were demanding a pay raise, a shorter workweek, and better working conditions. It was a move that some historians say laid the groundwork for today's assault on labor.
Now joining us to get into these issues are our two guests. Joseph McCartin is a professor of history and the director of the Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University. He's also the author of the book Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike That Changed America.
And also joining us by telephone is Elliot Simons. He was the former media spokesperson for PATCO local [sic] and was one of the many strikers who lost their jobs after the strike.
Thank you both for joining us.
Joseph, let's start off with you. Give us some context here. What was the state of the labor movement at the time? What kind of political forces were there--in American society was labor? Were they a prominent power?
JOSEPH MCCARTIN, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Labor was a prominent power in 1981. When the air traffic controllers went out on strike 33 years ago yesterday, on August 3, 1981, the labor movement was still seen as a central force in American government and politics. Both parties, Republican and Democrat, saw labor that way.
It was an important moment in American history, though, because Ronald Reagan was in the first months, really, still, of his presidency. He'd been inaugurated in January, 1981. And he was in the middle of rolling out what we call the Reagan revolution. And Reagan wanted to really turn back the clock, you might say, to an approach to American government and politics that was pre-New Deal. And part of that meant reorganizing the relationship between government and the labor movement.
The PATCO strike happened at this important turning point in American history, and it left a very profound legacy, because, as you say, Ronald Reagan first threatened those strikers to return to work within 48 hours of their walkout, and when they did not, he fired them. Not only did he fire them; he permanently replaced them. And with that action, he sent a powerful message that many employers even in the private sector acted upon after that, and it was a period of getting tough with the union movement that a really marked a profoundly important turning point.
DESVARIEUX: Yeah. I want to get a better sense of PATCO. Elliot, you were the media spokesperson for the local PATCO union in Baltimore at the time. Can you just give us a brief history? Why was it formed? And why did they decide to go on strike in '81?
ELLIOT SIMONS, FMR. MEDIA SPOKESPERSON, PATCO LOCAL: Dr. McCartin really gives a very good history of PATCO and why it started. And, of course, it started with a disaster, and that was the midair collision over New York City in 1960. And it became evident to those controllers back then that some improvements had to be made, particularly in the equipment and some of the working relationships. And there were many, many issues, and it was a difficult time to make those first strides. And I'll let Dr. McCartin to explain that part of it again. He does so beautifully in the book.
But when I became a controller in '75, a lot of the huge issues that really brought about the animosity [inaud.] Federal Aviation Administration [inaud.] resolved. It had been resolved to the point where I didn't feel a real need to execute the strike. There were still some real outstanding issues. And the one that comes to mind more than anything: the FAA's lack of defense of controllers that got involved [inaud.] certain incidents, accidents, such that the controllers had to get their own attorneys and really defend themselves out of their own pocket.
There was also the pay disparity. We certainly couldn't complain at the time of being underpaid. We certainly noticed the difference between what we were making and what airline pilots were making. So you had this festering dispute that had been going on.
And then you get people like me that were really busy training. I mean, I really didn't have that much time to really think about things. But you come into a union that's well established, it doesn't matter where it is, any one of the major airports or control centers in the country, and a lot of these feelings had been festering for a long, long time. So I came in just trying to learn the job, trying to get checked out, trying to get certified, and all of a sudden being faced with this tremendous decision.
DESVARIEUX: Yeah. And this tremendous decision that Ronald Reagan made at the end of the day, it kind of speaks to something that I think a lot of people don't know about is that PATCO actually supported his candidacy, as well as Republicans candidate Nixon at the time.
Let's actually first, though, roll a clip about what he did in terms of standing up to the unions and what he had to say about the strike at the time.
~~~
RONALD REAGAN, U.S. PRESIDENT: They are in violation of the law, and if they do not to report to work within 48 hours, they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated.
~~~
DESVARIEUX: So we just heard Ronald Reagan say that they will be terminated. Joseph, can you break down for us why did PATCO even support Reagan's candidacy?
MCCARTIN: Well, it's a long story in a way. I'll quickly summarize it. But first let me go to something Elliot said. This union had been attempted to be formed as early as 1960. It wasn't actually formed until 1968. Shortly after that, Richard Nixon was elected. And in the first years of PATCO trying to establish itself as a federal union, it dealt with a Republican president, Nixon. And what it found is that the Nixon administration in the early 1970s was prepared to make deals with unions in order to improve its standing, looking forward to running for reelection in 1972, and PATCO was able to get some concessions from Nixon that led PATCO leaders to endorse Nixon in 1972. They actually got their first contract with the federal government under that Republican president.
So when Ronald Reagan ran in 1980, PATCO already had a history of being able to negotiate with presidents from both parties. Reagan, of course, opposed the incumbent Jimmy Carter in the 1980 election. And Elliot came to work and worked his first years as an air traffic controller during the Carter administration. Carter was not be loved by air traffic controllers, and his FAA was a very, very tough negotiator with PATCO. It did not concede a lot of the major issues that Elliot just brought up. And so PATCO basically went to both candidates and both parties and said, who's going to help us the most? And actually Reagan reached out to PATCO. He wanted a few unions to endorse his candidacy. He saw the air traffic controllers as a union that he could work with. Most controllers were military veterans. Many of them were socially conservative. And he felt if any union could be brought into the Republican tent, maybe PATCO would be that union. So he and PATCO basically worked out a deal, and he promised that he would do what he could for the union in their negotiation when it came up in 1981. So it was a deep irony that PATCO did endorse Reagan in 1980. Reagan won. PATCO expected big returns from that endorsement. But when the negotiation actually unfolded in 1981, they were deeply disappointed. They decided to strike. But that was a bridge too far for Reagan. He was not going to tolerate a strike. And that's what led to that terrible conflict.
DESVARIEUX: So, essentially Reagan broke his promise. Elliot, did you or any of your members there at that PATCO local actually see this coming?
SIMONS: No, I can't say that we did. What I can say is that there was another major event within PATCO that took place just before the strike, and that was that the president of the union, John Leyden, was replaced by Robert Poli. And when I first heard about a strike plan, John Leyden was the president. And I was a real skeptic. And John Leyden said some words that really turned me. He said that even if we get the 80 percent minimum participation that was required by PATCO's own guidelines to execute a strike, that we will not strike unless the political and economic climate are correct. And what happened since then was, of course, Ronald Reagan got elected. As Dr. McCartin said, he pulled off his economic and tax program. He was very popular. And then he got shot in early 1981. He was never more popular than he was going into the summer of 1981.
And, of course, here PATCO was beating the drum. And this is where I really took a step back and I said, the political and the economic climate are clearly not right. This is not the time to do this.
DESVARIEUX: Okay, gentlemen, we're going to pause the conversation here, and in part two we'll discuss the larger impact of Reagan's actions on the labor movement and why all of this is relevant today. Professor Joseph McCartin, as well is Elliot Simons, thank you both for joining us.
MCCARTIN: Thank you.
DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

Tags: PATCOunion bustingReagan
Categories: Labor News

Uber driver suffers seizure, strikes pedestrian in Polk Gulch

Current News - Tue, 08/05/2014 - 14:35

Uber driver suffers seizure, strikes pedestrian in Polk Gulch
http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisco/uber-driver-suffers-seizure-strik...
By Bay City News

An Uber driver suffered an apparent seizure and struck a pedestrian with his car in San Francisco's Polk Gulch neighborhood on Saturday night, police said today.
The crash was reported at 9:58 p.m. Saturday near Polk and Geary streets.

The 56-year-old driver was taking passengers in his 2012 Mazda when he suffered the seizure, causing him to lose control of the vehicle, which hit three parked cars and then a man on the sidewalk, police spokeswoman Sgt. Danielle Newman said.

The pedestrian suffered a laceration to his head and was taken to San Francisco General Hospital. He is expected to survive, Newman said.

The driver was also hospitalized following his seizure and is expected to survive, Newman said. She said his license will be suspended until he can provide proof to the state Department of Motor Vehicles that his medical condition no longer impedes his ability to drive.

The passengers inside the Mazda at the time of the crash were not injured, Newman said.

Uber and other ridesharing companies have come under criticism in San Francisco regarding their regulations for drivers' insurance and other issues.

The policies faced increased scrutiny after an Uber driver struck and killed a 6-year-old girl on Polk Street last New Year's Eve.

In response to Saturday's crash, Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend said, "This is a very unfortunate situation. We wish the injured driver and pedestrian a speedy recovery and are grateful that their injuries aren't more serious. Safety is Uber's #1 priority and we are treating the matter with the utmost urgency and care. This driver partner has an outstanding record of service and safety with no prior incidents. Pending a medical review, he has been removed from the Uber platform.”

— Staff, wire report

Tags: Uber
Categories: Labor News

Golden Gate Bridge District Workers Vote to Authorize Strike

Current News - Tue, 08/05/2014 - 13:39

Golden Gate Bridge District Workers Vote to Authorize Strike
http://blogs.kqed.org/newsfix/2014/08/05/golden-gate-bridge-district-wor...
Bryan Goebel | August 5, 2014

Courtesy of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District
A broad range of workers who run the ferries, repair the buses and maintain the Golden Gate Bridge have voted to authorize a strike in a dispute over wages and health care contributions.

Members of 13 unions, known collectively as the Golden Gate Bridge Labor Coalition, voted overwhelmingly to authorize a walkout if negotiators aren’t able to reach a deal with theGolden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, union spokesman Alexander Tonisson said Monday.

“It seems like the district is unwilling to meet us halfway,” he said. “Therefore we’ve taken the strike authorization vote and a strike is possible in the near future.”

The workers include bus mechanics, ferry captains, deckhands, ironworkers and structural engineers, among others.

A strike would affect tens of thousands of bus and ferry commuters. Although bus operators are not part of the contract, Tonisson said their union would honor the picket lines.

The bridge district’s general manager, Denis Mulligan, characterized the dispute differently, saying he was “optimistic that we’ll be able to amicably resolve all this.” He was surprised by the strike vote.

“Progress is being made at the table, and so to scare our customers needlessly is unwarranted,” said Mulligan.

Tonisson said the unions, which have been working without a contract since July 1, are asking for a 12 percent wage increase over three years. Mulligan said the district is offering 9 percent. The unions maintain their wage request is needed to keep up with the high cost of living in the Bay Area.

“This is after three concessionary contracts where the coalition has given back to the district when financial times were harder,” Tonisson said. “We’re not asking for anything outrageous here.”

Workers’ salaries range from $40,000 a year for a deckhand to $100,000 annually for a civil engineer, said Tonisson. Mulligan said workers’ wages are competitive and they receive a generous benefits package that’s better than comparable positions at other Bay Area public agencies.

“We’re very fortunate that we have very low turnover, which would seemed to indicate that our packages are not out of the ballpark with respect to being woefully inadequate,” said Mulligan.

Tonisson said a strike date has not been set. “It really depends what happens at the bargaining table,” he said. “It’s important for the public to know that our members don’t want to go on strike.”

Mulligan said while talk of a strike was premature, the district would do everything it could to notify the public in the event of a walkout.

“A strike would be incredibly unfortunate,” Mulligan said. “It would reflect poorly on all of us, myself, our management team as well as our employees, because it would hurt our customers. And we should never take steps that hurt our customers.”

The two sides have been meeting at the district’s administrative headquarters. Talks are scheduled to continue.

Tags: ibu bay areaatu
Categories: Labor News

Baldwin Community Day a Success for the Transit Campaign!

Pittsburghers for Public Transit - Tue, 08/05/2014 - 12:32
12 volunteers helped to staff a transit booth at community day on Sat, Aug 2, 2014. Neighbors learned about the campaign, completed surveys, signed a petition, and entered a free raffle for a gift basket!

By the end of the day (when we had to close down early due to the torrential downpour) we had collected 300 petition signatures! Residents in Baldwin want their buses back! Shout out to everyone who helped make this day a success.


Categories: Labor News

Israel: Zarfaty workers stand firm. Morale boosted by 7000 emails from unionists across globe

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 08/04/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: WAC Ma'an
Categories: Labor News

Safety Regulation Still Lagging 100 Days After Korean Ferry Disaster

Current News - Mon, 08/04/2014 - 15:24

Safety Regulation Still Lagging 100 Days After Korean Ferry Disaster
http://www.equaltimes.org/south-korea-safety-regulation?lang=en#.U-AHMjm...
24 July 2014
SOUTH KOREA: SAFETY REGULATION STILL LAGGING 100 DAYS AFTER FERRY DISASTER
by Se-Woong Koo

“Wait a second, I just saw this in the back, it’s a life vest made in 1994. This is the situation on the ship. Power is cut off and we really don’t know what to do. The coastal police are apparently almost here, and I want to live.”

Made on a cell phone by a student victim whose desire to live didn’t stop him from losing his life, a previously unreleased recording has illustrated the stark reality of the poor safety onboard the Sewol, a ferry that sunk off the coast of southwest Korea on 16 April 2014.

A man holds up a sign that reads “Pass the special legislation” at a 19 July event in downtown Seoul where passers-by were asked to sign a petition in support of the victims’ families.

(Photo/Se-Woong Koo)
This Thursday, 24 July 2014, marks the 100th day anniversary of the disaster where some 294 people died – 10 bodies are still unaccounted for.

But given a discernible lack of progress in the investigation of the accident’s cause and the rescue operation’s failures, the families of the victims have been protesting in front of the country’s National Assembly since 12 July to demand the speedy passing of a legislation that would allow a special committee to carry out a full assessment and indict those found responsible.

The final day of the National Assembly’s regular summer session on 17 July failed to see the passage of the much debated legislation.

At the heart of the disagreement is the ruling Saenuri Party’s refusal to heed the families’ request and grant the committee full investigative authority including the power to seize evidence and arrest suspects.

Coupled with the mysterious death of Yoo Byung-eun, the fugitive boss of the company that operated the Sewol, the stalled legislation has received criticism as a sign of the state’s inability to seriously tackle problems in public and occupational safety.

Korea is beset by industrial accidents. According to a study conducted by the state statistics agency (KOSIS), in 2008 Korea had an industrial fatality rate of 18.0 per 100,000 persons, higher than those of Russia (10.9) and Mexico (10.0).
That number tapered only slightly in 2009 (15.7) and 2010 (15.5).

By the government’s own admission 2,422 Koreans died from industrial accidents in 2010 alone, and the 2013 figure of 1,929 deaths, while a decrease, still accorded the country the dubious honor of having the highest rate of worker fatalities among OECD member states.

Under President Park Geun-hye’s watch, accidents large and small have taken place with an alarming frequency. Notably on 31 August 2013 three trains collided in the southeastern hub of Daegu, injuring more than 20 people.

On 17 February 2014 the roof of a resort in the town of Kyungju collapsed from the weight of accumulated snow, killing 10 and injuring 125, mostly university students on a school retreat.

Meanwhile, the construction of a 555 metre-tall tower by the Lotte Group in southeastern Seoul has resulted since last year in two deaths and five injuries as well as a small fire and falling debris onto the nearby area.

The company has also been accused of causing sinkholes in the neighborhood with the building’s excessive weight.

On the manufacturing front, Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world’s largest shipbuilder, reported eight deaths and four injuries at its work sites in March and April of this year alone.
Hyundai Steel, a sister company to Hyundai Heavy Industries, saw eight die and another eight injured last year.

Cost-cutting

Experts argue that to improve public and occupational safety the state must first address the underlying problem of cost-cutting by industries.

But for Jun Hyoung-Bae, professor of law at Kangwon University and a specialist in occupational safety and labour rights, the problem is deeply rooted: “Korea’s industrial sector is heavily dependent on manufacturing and construction, which are prone to accidents to begin with.

“Second, to remain competitive, Korean companies cut costs associated with production so that it can make similar products compared to those made overseas but at a much lower cost and therefore at a lower price. The idea is that if they followed every safety regulation they wouldn’t be able to compete.”

The subway system is another area where excessive cost-cutting in safety enforcement and hiring has been blamed for causing accidents. This spring Seoul alone has seen three subway accidents, with the worst case, on the heavily trafficked Line 2, leading to 238 injuries.
The Seoul Subway Labor Union (SSLU) contends that the Sewol sinking has not brought about any meaningful change in the management’s attitude toward safety issues.

In a public statement, the SSLU noted: “While turning a blind eye to deficient manpower on the ground, [the management] has simply sent a pile of documents ordering inspection. There is no sign that the system of operation that emphasises performance and results over safety inspection will ever be touched.”

Various accidents have mounted while the Sewol legislation stalls.

On 17 July a fire broke out on the Busan city subway network, forcing some 500 passengers to evacuate and halting operation for 40 minutes.

That same day, a helicopter carrying five firemen on the way back from the ongoing Sewol search operation crashed in a densely populated area of Gwangju, killing all five onboard.

Tags: Korea Maritime deregulation
Categories: Labor News

Safety Regulation Still Lagging 100 Days After Korean Ferry Disaster

Current News - Mon, 08/04/2014 - 15:24

Safety Regulation Still Lagging 100 Days After Korean Ferry Disaster
http://www.equaltimes.org/south-korea-safety-regulation?lang=en#.U-AHMjm...
24 July 2014
SOUTH KOREA: SAFETY REGULATION STILL LAGGING 100 DAYS AFTER FERRY DISASTER
by Se-Woong Koo

“Wait a second, I just saw this in the back, it’s a life vest made in 1994. This is the situation on the ship. Power is cut off and we really don’t know what to do. The coastal police are apparently almost here, and I want to live.”

Made on a cell phone by a student victim whose desire to live didn’t stop him from losing his life, a previously unreleased recording has illustrated the stark reality of the poor safety onboard the Sewol, a ferry that sunk off the coast of southwest Korea on 16 April 2014.

A man holds up a sign that reads “Pass the special legislation” at a 19 July event in downtown Seoul where passers-by were asked to sign a petition in support of the victims’ families.

(Photo/Se-Woong Koo)
This Thursday, 24 July 2014, marks the 100th day anniversary of the disaster where some 294 people died – 10 bodies are still unaccounted for.

But given a discernible lack of progress in the investigation of the accident’s cause and the rescue operation’s failures, the families of the victims have been protesting in front of the country’s National Assembly since 12 July to demand the speedy passing of a legislation that would allow a special committee to carry out a full assessment and indict those found responsible.

The final day of the National Assembly’s regular summer session on 17 July failed to see the passage of the much debated legislation.

At the heart of the disagreement is the ruling Saenuri Party’s refusal to heed the families’ request and grant the committee full investigative authority including the power to seize evidence and arrest suspects.

Coupled with the mysterious death of Yoo Byung-eun, the fugitive boss of the company that operated the Sewol, the stalled legislation has received criticism as a sign of the state’s inability to seriously tackle problems in public and occupational safety.

Korea is beset by industrial accidents. According to a study conducted by the state statistics agency (KOSIS), in 2008 Korea had an industrial fatality rate of 18.0 per 100,000 persons, higher than those of Russia (10.9) and Mexico (10.0).
That number tapered only slightly in 2009 (15.7) and 2010 (15.5).

By the government’s own admission 2,422 Koreans died from industrial accidents in 2010 alone, and the 2013 figure of 1,929 deaths, while a decrease, still accorded the country the dubious honor of having the highest rate of worker fatalities among OECD member states.

Under President Park Geun-hye’s watch, accidents large and small have taken place with an alarming frequency. Notably on 31 August 2013 three trains collided in the southeastern hub of Daegu, injuring more than 20 people.

On 17 February 2014 the roof of a resort in the town of Kyungju collapsed from the weight of accumulated snow, killing 10 and injuring 125, mostly university students on a school retreat.

Meanwhile, the construction of a 555 metre-tall tower by the Lotte Group in southeastern Seoul has resulted since last year in two deaths and five injuries as well as a small fire and falling debris onto the nearby area.

The company has also been accused of causing sinkholes in the neighborhood with the building’s excessive weight.

On the manufacturing front, Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world’s largest shipbuilder, reported eight deaths and four injuries at its work sites in March and April of this year alone.
Hyundai Steel, a sister company to Hyundai Heavy Industries, saw eight die and another eight injured last year.

Cost-cutting

Experts argue that to improve public and occupational safety the state must first address the underlying problem of cost-cutting by industries.

But for Jun Hyoung-Bae, professor of law at Kangwon University and a specialist in occupational safety and labour rights, the problem is deeply rooted: “Korea’s industrial sector is heavily dependent on manufacturing and construction, which are prone to accidents to begin with.

“Second, to remain competitive, Korean companies cut costs associated with production so that it can make similar products compared to those made overseas but at a much lower cost and therefore at a lower price. The idea is that if they followed every safety regulation they wouldn’t be able to compete.”

The subway system is another area where excessive cost-cutting in safety enforcement and hiring has been blamed for causing accidents. This spring Seoul alone has seen three subway accidents, with the worst case, on the heavily trafficked Line 2, leading to 238 injuries.
The Seoul Subway Labor Union (SSLU) contends that the Sewol sinking has not brought about any meaningful change in the management’s attitude toward safety issues.

In a public statement, the SSLU noted: “While turning a blind eye to deficient manpower on the ground, [the management] has simply sent a pile of documents ordering inspection. There is no sign that the system of operation that emphasises performance and results over safety inspection will ever be touched.”

Various accidents have mounted while the Sewol legislation stalls.

On 17 July a fire broke out on the Busan city subway network, forcing some 500 passengers to evacuate and halting operation for 40 minutes.

That same day, a helicopter carrying five firemen on the way back from the ongoing Sewol search operation crashed in a densely populated area of Gwangju, killing all five onboard.

Tags: Korea Maritime deregulation
Categories: Labor News

Taking a Bite Out of Overtime Abuse

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Mon, 08/04/2014 - 07:59
Jenny Brown Labor NotesAugust 4, 2014View the original piece

“When you get up, the kids are sleeping. When you get home, the kids are sleeping.”

That’s how Rich Pawlikowski, a UPS package car driver in Queens, New York, described his lengthening workday. “Only six to eight years ago, the summer months were light. [Now] they send us out with 10, 11, 12 hours of work,” he said.

“It’s not healthy. You’ve got to get some rest. When the end of week comes, you see all the accidents and injuries.”

UPS, with its growing package business, isn’t refusing to hire because it’s hurting. On the contrary, business is booming. Like other chronic overtime abusers, such as lucrative television production companies and Verizon with its fat franchise agreements, UPS does it because it can.

Contract provisions and laws can help. But those only get enforced if workers get organized and do it themselves.

It takes vigilance, member involvement, and in some cases a collective “Hell no!”

An overtime boycott by hospital nurses, for instance, got management’s attention fast (see “Pushed to the Wall, Nurses Refuse Overtime”). They were helped by a law against mandatory overtime, but only saw motion after emergency room staff refused any assignments.

CHRISTMAS DEBACLE

UPS Teamsters have long had contract provisions to curb overtime abuse. But workers in New York found direct action was required to get the full benefit.

The contract allows drivers to file a grievance if they work more than nine-and-a-half hours for three days in a given week. The penalty is triple-time pay for hours worked over 9.5—but what the drivers really want is a load adjustment, so they can get home before 10 p.m.

Pawlikowski said he kept grieving it, but management wouldn’t adjust his workload, preferring to pay the penalty.

During the last two Christmas seasons, Pawlikowski said, they were so understaffed that he and his co-workers were unable to get through the work. The company got nervous and even set up a task force to study the problem.

Then in February, 250 Queens drivers, members of Teamsters Local 804, were suspended after a short work stoppage. Though the immediate cause was to protest the firing of one of their members, that came on the heels of an accumulation of other contract violations.

The company started firing them in waves, but a vigorous union campaign and community pressure forced the company to rehire everyone by April.

After that flexing of union muscle, managers started adjusting workloads in earnest. The company has even started hiring.

“Drivers are ecstatic,” Pawlikowski said.

The system is elaborate. Workers have to go to a manager to get on the “9.5 list.” Previously, managers simply posted the list, but so many people signed up, they took it down. Now managers try to gatekeep.

“They always threaten, some people get intimidated. But there’s nothing they can do to you except look at you funny,” said Pawlikowski. The union provides advice and forms.

Once you’re on the list, you can tell them how much overtime you want. The limits don’t apply during peak—from Thanksgiving to New Year’s—but the improvement is noticeable.

“That’s the beauty of 9.5,” said Pawlikowski. “You get everybody on the list, it creates jobs, you get to see your family, everybody’s happy.”

REALITY BITES

Writer-producers in the highly profitable “nonfiction” section of television production, known to most of us as reality TV, are deemed “exempt” and not eligible for overtime pay—even when they work grueling 80- to 100-hour weeks. (See box at right.)

These workers create the ideas in the shows, develop scenarios, write interview questions and even dialog, prep characters, set up shoots, film, tear down, and move to the next location.

A 30-year veteran of the industry said union jobs she’s worked paid $2,500-$3,500 a week—but these non-union jobs are paying $1,000. With the long weeks, it works out to $10-12 an hour.

On a union job, she said, “You work, put in a few extra hours…but I’m not working seven days a week for a month without a day off. You can say no.”

“Production companies are trying to deliver TV shows at cheaper and cheaper prices,” said Justin Molito, an organizer with the Writers Guild (WGAE). The shows are increasingly being made on a shorter timeline and with longer hours, he said.

A union survey in New York found that 84 percent of writer-producers worked more than 40 hours a week, every week, and 85 percent never received overtime pay. The union estimated the wage theft at $40 million a year.

That’s starting to change now that the Guild is organizing the workforce. About one-third have already voted the union in, said Molito. That and the prospect of being sued for wage theft have made some employers curb their worst abuses.

Still, workers are going before New York’s city council to expose labor violations in nonfiction TV—which is, not coincidentally, the most profitable segment of TV production.

NOT GETTING BETTER

While overtime use goes up when the economy gets better, usually abuse goes down, said Catherine Ruckelshaus of the National Employment Law Project. That’s because workers are more able to stand up for themselves.

But not in this recovery. “In the low-wage sector, it’s still a buyer’s market for the employer,” she said.

Overtime violations are rampant. These include clocking people out before they’ve finished working, paying straight time when overtime is required, misclassifying workers—like those in nonfiction TV—as exempt professionals, and claiming workers are supervisors when they aren’t.

Allegedly “independent” contractors are even found in unionized auto plants, where fly-by-night hiring agencies have workers on 10-hour days, seven days a week, with no overtime protections and at rock-bottom pay.

After this article ran in print, a truck driver called us who works 12-hour shifts, six or seven days a week, transporting parts for a Ford assembly plant in Chicago. But “we don’t get overtime or anything,” he said.

That’s because the company that pays him, CWS, has been getting away with the “independent contractor” ruse for years—though it’s clear he and his co-workers should legally be employees. The boss sets his hours, he punches a time clock, and he certainly doesn’t own the truck he drives. “Half the time we don’t even get to have lunch,” he said.

It’s a common setup. The driver said CWS has accounts with GM and Chrysler too.

NOT ENOUGH PENALTY

Overtime premium pay is part of the Depression-era Fair Labor Standards Act. It was intended to cause employers to hire more workers, by making it more costly to push existing workforces into longer and longer hours.

But the deterrent doesn’t work unless there’s enforcement to keep employers from ducking the premium, said Ruckelshaus.

Even when employers are forced into paying the premium, time-and-a-half may not be enough to have the intended effect.

Ironically, good union contracts can make paying time-and-a-half cheaper than hiring additional workers. A 1990s study by Labor Notes found that in the auto industry, only double-time pay provided enough of a goad to get factories to hire more people. This was because “adding another Social Security number” carried its own costs in training, health insurance, workers compensation, and pension coverage.

Workers at Verizon can’t remember the last time the company was hiring, but it’s not for lack of work. Verizon promised in a 2008 franchise agreement that it would finish installing its fiber optic network (FiOS) in New York City by June 30, 2014. The city can impose penalties for lateness.

Instead of hiring more staff locally, the company has been pulling workers away from their homes in other parts of the Northeast for three-week shifts. Local employees, members of the Communications Workers (CWA), are working three out of four Saturdays. Even those who volunteered for the FiOS build-out, hoping for lots of overtime to pay debts or big bills, are starting to balk.

The company announced in June that it will miss the deadline. Instead of examining its hiring practices, it blamed hurricanes, uncooperative landlords, and even the 2011 strike by CWA and the Electricians (IBEW), even though in 2013 it claimed to be ahead of schedule.

‘AWFUL WORK SCHEDULE’

A scheme to evade Saturday overtime pay hit autoworkers last year at two Detroit-area Chrysler plants.

The Autoworkers (UAW) contract provides for overtime pay for working on Saturdays. But the company created a 10-hour shift system, the “Alternative Work Schedule,” with two-thirds of the production workforce scheduled every Saturday—at straight time. The idea is, it doesn’t count as a weekend if it’s part of your regular schedule.

Half those workers must switch back and forth between day and evening shifts each week. The system also evades break and lunch times.

Even the best shift, Monday through Thursday, 5:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., is grueling, said Alex Wassell, a welder repair technician at the Warren Stamping Plant.

“It’s a long day [on that shift], too,” he said. “Even three days in a row off, you’re still tired on the 10-hour-a-day schedule.”

To the dismay of rank and filers, the union allowed the unpopular new schedule to stand. UAW’s vice president even tried to sell it to indignant members at a raucous meeting with Warren Stamping workers. Local 869 members at the plant organized against it—petitioning, wearing stickers, mass-texting the company and the union, even picketing the plant.

After the picket, Wassell was fired for supposedly disparaging the company. He got reinstated and won a long fight to clear his record.

For now, the bad schedule prevails at Warren Stamping. But “Sterling Stamping is still on the traditional schedule,” Wassell said, and “that could have been because of the ruckus we made. Management and union felt they’d stay with what they had.”

Members of the local are making abolishing the “awful work schedule” a high priority in 2015 negotiations. If they’re still on it after that, Wassell said, “people will be beyond themselves.”

Alexandra Bradbury contributed to this article.


 

Categories: Labor News, Unions

Korean Railway Workers Leader Jae Ha Jeong On Korean Struggle Against Rail Privatization At San Francisco Labor Council

Current News - Sun, 08/03/2014 - 15:26

Korean Railway Workers Leader Jae Ha Jeong On Korean Struggle Against Rail Privatization
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYKV5COmpJY&feature=
Korean Railway Workers Union Conductor an fired railway workers leader
Jae Ha Jeong spoke to the San Francisco Labor Council on July 28, 2014
about their union struggle against privatization and repression. He also
discussed how the union had been able to mobilize the public to support
public people's control of the railroads.
He also thanked the delegates of the SF Labor Council for their participation
in a solidarity picket at the Korean consulate during the December 2013 strike
and announced that they might be another strike action at the end of August 2014.
The event was sponsored by the San Francisco Labor Council and LaborFest
as part of the commemoration of the San Francisco 1934 general strike.
For further information on the KRWU
Facebook Support Railway Workers Right To Strike In Korea
Additional video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiNU3rMh70o
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ym5ehR1O70Q&feature=
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9sS5vYoRiw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtnvBQZRaxs&feature=
For information on LaborFest www.laborfest.net
Production of Labor Video Project www.laborvideo.org

Tags: KRWUKorean Railway Workers Unionprivatizationunion busting
Categories: Labor News

USA: Tackling the Root Causes of the Refugee Crisis at the U.S. Border

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 08/02/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: AFL-CIO
Categories: Labor News

BART investigating racist vandalism directed at employees

Current News - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 22:17

BART investigating racist vandalism directed at employees
http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/local/bart-investigating-racist-vandalism-...
Posted: 8:56 p.m. Thursday, July 31, 2014
BART investigating racist vandalism directed at employees
lif. — BART officials responded Thursday to allegations by several African-American employees who say they found messages with racial slurs and death threats scrawled on their lockers.
BART officials say there is zero tolerance for racism on the job.
Two BART workers say the work culture allows discrimination. They told KTVU Thursday that they have experienced racism at their BART workplace for years. Now they are adding new charges to a discrimination lawsuit.
Rudolph Johnson, a track maintenance worker who's been with BART for four years, said he came to work one day and found graffiti on his locker, with the f-word and n-word.
"It told me I was going to die and I immediately was threatened and didn't feel safe at work," Johnson said.
Johnson said his supervisors seemed unconcerned.
"As soon as I reported it to my supervisor he said he was too busy and told me to report it to the next supervisor," Johnson told KTVU.
The graffiti incident happened June 27th.
Thursday BART issued a statement saying in part: "BART is taking extremely seriously a report of racist and threatening graffiti...BART Police were notified within an hour of the time the incident was reported and began an internal investigation."
Johnson says it's just the latest in a string of racial incidents that is detailed in a lawsuit brought by seven BART workers, filed last December. The complaint alleges another graffiti incidence in March 2013 involving racial slurs, an assault, and discrimination in promotion decisions.
Johnson says he had been assaulted by two Latino co-workers last year.
"They picked me up, tried to dump me in a trash can and put me on a table and tried to do sexual acts toward me," Johnson said. He told KTVU he reported the attack and simulated sex acts to a supervisor, but says the supervisor was unsympathetic and reprimanded Johnson along with the two co-workers for "horseplay".
Another African-American employee, foreworker Joseph Montgomery said one manager had a whip in his office.
"He used to display a white whip in his office, hanging, which was reported to the Office of Civil Rights at BART," Montgomery said.
KTVU contacted BART's Civil Rights Program Manager Sharon Moore. She says her office handles complaints from all BART departments regarding civil rights or discrimination cases.
She says her office was aware of the March 2013 racial graffiti complaint. At the time, she says the supervisors were instructed to investigate. When the supervisors said they couldn't identify the perpetrator, they were instructed to remove the graffiti and send a memo to all employees saying such acts were not to be tolerated.
Moore says her office was not aware of the assaults on Johnson until they were contacted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee regarding a complaint that included those incidents.
"That was the first time our office became aware of the incidents," Moore told KTVU Thursday.
The worker's attorney says BART's top official have not responded quickly or forcefully enough.
"When you're giving people a slap on the wrist instead of serious punishment, you're allowing a culture to fester that's discriminatory and harassing," said Jody LeWitter, the BART workers' attorney.
BART officials say they have hired two independent investigators.
The next court date for the discrimination lawsuit is September 17th.
_______________________________________________

Tags: BARTracism
Categories: Labor News

NW Farmers Fret Over On-Going Vancouver, WA Port Shutdown

Current News - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 19:50

NW Farmers Fret Over On-Going Vancouver, WA Port Shutdown
http://www.opb.org/news/article/farmers-fret-over-on-going-port-shutdown/
OPB | Aug. 1, 2014 4:41 p.m. | Updated: Aug. 1, 2014 5:55 p.m. | Vancouver, Washington

Conrad Wilson

Shipments of grain have all but stopped at the Port of Vancouver and that couldn’t have come at a worse time for wheat producers. That’s because the wheat harvest is in full swing.

The shipments have been blocked because Washington state workers are no longer inspecting grain at the port. They stopped those inspections about a month ago. Now farmers are calling for those inspections to resume.

Already farmers have harvested about 40 percent of Washington’s wheat.

So says Nicole Berg, president of the Washington Wheat Growers Association. She farms some 21,000 acres near the Tri-Cities in the south-central part of the state.

Berg says most of the region’s grain is heading to Asian markets like Japan and Vietnam.

“Around 90 percent of the wheat in the state of Washington as well as the Pacific Northwest goes overseas,” Berg says.

Wheat and other commodity crops have virtually stopped moving through United Grain’s terminal at the Port of Vancouver.

And Berg says that’s made her nervous.

“We have big concerns because I kind of feel like we’re an innocent bystander down here on the farm level with different things that happen at the ports that are somewhat out of our control.”

Last month, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced state patrol officers would no longer escort state grain inspectors across a picket line set up at the port by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

State grain inspectors say at times they’ve felt unsafe crossing the picket line. So without a police escort, the inspectors said they would no longer cross. But without inspections, it’s virtually impossible to ship grain.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” says Randy Ward, merchandising manager for Pendleton Grain Growers – he moves the grain from the farmer’s field to export terminals at ports throughout the region.

United Grain at the Port of Vancouver is the largest grain holding facility on the West Coast. And it’s one of only nine export terminals that help move grain from Oregon and Washington, and as far east as Idaho, Nebraska, the Dakotas – even Minnesota – overseas.

Ward says if United Grain can’t ship his wheat, it clogs up the whole system.

“Essentially what you’re doing is taking the ability of them to push through bushels at their facility away from the market.”

One possible solution would be for the feds to take over grain inspections. In fact, across the river at the Port of Portland, grain inspections have continued. That’s because federal – not state workers – perform grain inspections in Oregon.

But so far efforts to get the U.S. Department of Agriculture involved at the Port of Vancouver have not been successful.

Yesterday, ten members of Congress from Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, calling the lack of grain inspections “unacceptable” and urging the agency to “meet its statutory obligation to inspect wheat exports.”

Blake Rowe, CEO of the Oregon Wheat Commission, says the inspections are USDA’s responsibility.

“There’s an agreement for Washington state to do the work in Washington but they’re choosing not to do that and ultimately the responsibility falls back on USDA, the Federal Grain Inspection Service and they need to step up.”

Rowe says with United Grain offline, shipping grain will only get more difficult as harvest ramps up in states further east.

“The capacity of the elevators on the Columbia – that gets worse as harvest in those other states really gets cranked up. As the corn crop begins to come in, it’s going to make the availability of United Grain even more critical,” Rowe says.

United Grain Corporation locked out the ILWU in February 2013.

The company says it wants to lower labor costs to match a 2012 agreement between union workers and another firm, Export Grain Terminal (EGT), in Longview.

Pat McCormick, a spokesperson for United Grain, says it’s all about staying competitive. He says the 2012 labor agreement gave the Longview company a cost advantage that United Grain — as well as Columbia Grain in Portland — would like to match.

He says United Grain and other terminals “are after a level playing field so that they can more fairly compete with EGT.”

“That’s what they like to say, that they feel the playing field is uneven now,” according to Brett Lynch, with the ILWU. He says United Grain has been profitable.

“They are still competitive with the workforce that they have in place.”

The union and United Grain Corporation resumed negotiations Wednesday. The two sides are expected to continue talks Saturday.

Tags: ilwuShippers
Categories: Labor News

Kuwait: “The Kafala is a System of Slavery,” an interview with the KTUF

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Migrant Rights
Categories: Labor News

USA: Making workers’ rights a civil right

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Hill
Categories: Labor News

Air France ground workers to strike on August 2 "Austerity is just for the employees, while the management and stockholders continue to get richer,"

Current News - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 13:09

Air France ground workers to strike on August 2 "Austerity is just for the employees, while the management and stockholders continue to get richer,"
http://www.france24.com/en/20140731-air-france-strike-ground-workers-aug...

© Afp
Text by FRANCE 24
Latest update : 2014-07-31
Air France ground staff have called for a strike at French airports from 1am local time on Saturday, August 2, until midnight to call for better work conditions and salaries, increased flight security and to oppose the use of subcontracters.

For the latest news on flight delays, check the Paris Airports website (in English) by clicking here.

The strike, which comes at the height of the holiday season, will affect Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports in Paris as well as those at Ajaccio, Bastia, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille (Maintenance), Montpellier, Mulhouse, Nantes, Nice, Strasbourg and Toulouse.

The CGT-UGICT union is planning a protest the same day at Charles de Gaulle (Roissy) airport, beginning at 11am local time.

A statement from the CGT-Roissy union said Air France's management had cited the financial crisis to falsely justify applying "austerity" measures to employee salaries.

“The management has justified such measures by citing the economic crisis, but in fact they allow the safeguarding of profits at our expense,” the union said.

"Austerity is just for the employees, while the management and stockholders continue to get richer," the statement said.________________________________________

Tags: Air FranceCGT
Categories: Labor News

Air France ground workers to strike on August 2 "Austerity is just for the employees, while the management and stockholders continue to get richer,"

Current News - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 13:09

Air France ground workers to strike on August 2 "Austerity is just for the employees, while the management and stockholders continue to get richer,"
http://www.france24.com/en/20140731-air-france-strike-ground-workers-aug...

© Afp
Text by FRANCE 24
Latest update : 2014-07-31
Air France ground staff have called for a strike at French airports from 1am local time on Saturday, August 2, until midnight to call for better work conditions and salaries, increased flight security and to oppose the use of subcontracters.

For the latest news on flight delays, check the Paris Airports website (in English) by clicking here.

The strike, which comes at the height of the holiday season, will affect Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports in Paris as well as those at Ajaccio, Bastia, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille (Maintenance), Montpellier, Mulhouse, Nantes, Nice, Strasbourg and Toulouse.

The CGT-UGICT union is planning a protest the same day at Charles de Gaulle (Roissy) airport, beginning at 11am local time.

A statement from the CGT-Roissy union said Air France's management had cited the financial crisis to falsely justify applying "austerity" measures to employee salaries.

“The management has justified such measures by citing the economic crisis, but in fact they allow the safeguarding of profits at our expense,” the union said.

"Austerity is just for the employees, while the management and stockholders continue to get richer," the statement said.________________________________________

Tags: Air FranceCGT
Categories: Labor News

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