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On The 20th Anniversary of The Liverpool Dockers Struggle-Resolution of Solidarity with the Greek Dockers' struggle against privatisation

Current News - Sat, 12/19/2015 - 13:59

On The 20th Anniversary of The Liverpool Dockers Struggle-Resolution of Solidarity with the Greek Dockers' struggle against privatisation

http://workersinternational.info/wp-content/uploads/WIRFI-Journal-14-Nov...
September 29 of this year marked the 20th anniversary of the start of the Liverpool Dock Strike. To mark the occasion the sacked Liverpool Dockworkers held a weekend event commemorating the many good and progressive legacies that were born out of the 28 month dispute. The dispute originally involved 500 dockworkers who were sacked from the Port of Liverpool for honouring the number one principle of the trade union movement in refusing to cross a picket line. When the dispute ended in January 1998 more than 80,000 national and international trade unionists and supporters had either pledged or taken part in solidarity action on behalf of the Liverpool dockworkers and their families. Jack Heyman, a retired longshoreman from San Francisco, was very prominent in the international movement of support for the Liverpool dockers. He attended the weekend of commemorations, where he proposed the following motion:

“Whereas representatives, members and supporters of maritime and port workers’ unions are meeting in Liver- pool, England on this 20th anniversary of the historic struggle by Liverpool dockers against mass sackings and union-busting; and

Whereas, while their struggle was ultimately lost, a key part of the Liver- pool dockers’ struggle was solidarity actions by maritime and port workers around the world, giving rise to the International Dockworkers’ Council (IDC) and its successful campaign for the Charleston 5 longshore struggle; and

Whereas, 20 years ago Liverpool dockers were in the forefront of the struggle against privatisation and cas- ualization of the workforce, today Greek port workers are facing the brunt of the worldwide capitalist attack on transport workers and all workers; and

Whereas, the Troika of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund have singled out Greece for attack. and have insisted as part of the “bailout” (in reality of leading international banks) that the dockers of Piraeus, Thessalo- niki and other ports be fully privatized; and

Whereas in recent years Greek port worker unions have already fought the partial privatisation of the Piraeus docks, under which union representa- tion has been eliminated in the container port operated by the Chinese Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) leading to 16-hour shifts, unpaid wages and a sharp deterioration of safety conditions; and

Whereas, under the EU2020 strategy, the European Commission is pushing a “liberalization” program of Thatcherite measures aiming to cargo, passenger and other maritime operations, as well as to eliminate protections against sackings and under- cut the right to strike, thus threatening the very existence of dockers’ unions throughout Europe; and

Whereas the troika’s intervention in the Greek port sector aims to eliminate the Public Port Authority through the outright privatisation of the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki; and

Whereas we know from previous experience in the ports sector that the imposition of anti-union measures at the ports in one country will be exported to ports in other countries; and

Whereas this would embolden employers and the capitalist govern- ments in attacking maritime and port workers throughout the world; and

Whereas, the IDC European Zone in March 2015 issued a statement expressing its support for Greek working people in opposing the vicious

austerity program dictated by Euro- pean and international financial institutions; and

Whereas; both the IDC and ITF dockworkers have proudly coordinated mass protests against port service lib- eralization measures at the European Parliament in Strasbourg:

Therefore be it resolved, since the global conflict now is centered in Greece, and Greek port unions will undertake actions to prevent the privatisation of the ports ordered by the Troika and now imposed on the Greek government, this meeting commemorating the anniversary of the heroic dockers’ struggle calls upon maritime and port unions to take all possible measures of solidarity with our Greek comrades in struggle.

AN INJURY TO ONE IS AN INJURY TO ALL! VICTORY TO THE GREEK DOCKWORKERS!”

Workers International Journal November 2015 Page 13

20th Anniversary of the Liverpool Dockers’ dispute, 26 September 2015

‘Source of that movement lies in the entire history of workers standing up to represent themselves’

Dot Gibson’s speech at the commemoration event

Thanks! I am proud to have the chance to speak at this event

What is the significance of the Support Groups for the Labour Party and the trade unions today?

The movement which arose in support of Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership election surprised many – not least the Parliamentary Labour Party, the media and the Tory establish- ment.

But is it so surprising? I suggest that the source of that movement lies in the entire history of workers standing up to represent themselves – setting up trade unions, the First International in 1864, the founding of the Labour Party in 1900, and perhaps particularly in the mass movement in 1945, which elected a Labour government to launch the NHS, nationalisation of basic industries and the welfare state.

And then in the Support Groups built by thousands of Labour Party and trade union members and socialist groups 40 years later from 1985 onwards to defend the gains of that post-war government.

Thirty years ago the Labour Party and the official TUC did not support the historic year-long miners’ strike, yet the ruling class had been preparing for it for a long time.

They had a financial war chest for this battle, and they had the anti-trade union laws

In the vacuum of Labour movement leadership thousands of rank-and-file Labour Party and trade union members, and socialists built a network of support groups.

They transported food, clothes, babies’ nappies, toys and other necessi- ties to the mining communities around the country.

They organised fund-raising con- certs and raffles. They joined picket lines, marched and demonstrated. They built lasting connections.

And then each time workers came into struggle the support groups went into action – for the print-workers, the seafarers, the dockers, the Hillingdon hospital workers.

And of course there was the massive rank-and-file movement against the Iraq war. But Labour went ahead with the war and the privatisation and refused to repeal the anti-union laws.

Then we got the Coalition government and now the Tories.

Despite the betrayals, rank-and-file members of trade unions and Labour did not stop. Over the years a myriad of campaigns have been set up in defence of hospitals, schools, post offices, nurs- eries and day-centres, libraries and leisure centres.

And justice campaigns like the black-listing of trade unionists, deaths in custody and in support of asylum seekers. And the green campaigns, the anti-war movement, homeless students and young people and of course, in defence of pensioners!

There isn’t a city or town in the country without a campaign!

And over the past three or four years the People’s Assembly Against Austerity has been established, led by the trade unions to unite these campaigns, and thousands of young people are coming forward to build on these experiences.

Add to this the development of community branches in Unite the Union, and now the “People’s Post Campaign” launched by the Communication Workers Union.

The important change is that the gap between trade union industrial action and the struggle for political representation is being overcome and this is more and more a conscious development.

There will be a massive turnout in Manchester on 4 October.

It is against this background that the Labour leadership election took place. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are part of this movement.

So let’s look at the significance of the Liverpool Dockers’ lock-out in all of this.

I am proud to have been a member of the London Dockers Support Group (and I greet our Turkish comrades who joined the Support Group, representing workers in the East London clothing sweatshops). Our biggest event was to organise the huge March for Social Justice in April 1997, during the general election campaign.

This built on the determination of the dockers to stand up for the history of the movement and the rights of all workers. A message was delivered to 10 Downing Street addressed to whoever became the next Prime Minis- ter.

The delegation which delivered that message were dressed in the period clothes of the Chartists. Let’s remember that the Chartist movement was described by Lenin as the first mass working-class party.

It was Tony Blair and a Labour government that won the 1997 election, but that government did not support the dockers.

I am also proud that I was the editor of the dockers’ newspaper. The shop stewards committee was the editorial board.

In the 28-month lock-out, there were 25 issues of the Dockers Charter and these are now the basis for a book.

These papers are an on-the-spot record with statements from the leaders and letters, reports and the views of the pickets.

From the beginning there were mass meetings every Friday and the dockers set out to build a community and an international campaign.

Issue no. 1 advertised a Community March and Rally and announced the setting up of the Women of the Waterfront

Issue no. 2 had a headline “Dockers Win Worldwide Backing” and announced the receipt of £20,000 from Canadian and Australian dockers

Issue no. 3 was headed: “The world is our picket line” and reported support from Spain, Sweden, Italy, France, Germany and Japan

Issue no. 4 announced the International Conference of port workers; the Liverpool dockers had refused an offer from the company to re-employ 100 men and pay off the rest with £25,000 each (a lot of money in those days).

There are reports of the dockers’ support for hospital workers, firefighters, local government workers, Liverpool schools and asylum seekers.

In just the first eight months there were 14 trade union and community marches and rallies: “with the intention of rebuilding working-class confidence and solidarity”

Dockers had spoken at 4,000 meetings throughout the country and initiated Support Groups in the major towns

Reclaim our Streets a London group of young anarchists and socialists positively supported the dockers and with some difficulties over discipline – worked with the shop stewards committee

! The paper carries letters and discussion pieces from the pickets with many pictures. . .

! Whilst the shop stewards com- mittee remained at the heart, rank-and- file dockers and a Women of the Waterfront toured the world and their reports are in the paper

! Local dockers got students of English to translate the Liverpool dockers’ speeches – but the students couldn’t understand Liverpool English! However – the host dockers said it didn’t really matter because they all spoke the same language of struggle!

! In March 1996, in the sixth month of the dispute, at last the union’s general secretary, Bill Morris (now Lord Morris) spoke at a mass meeting. We published the full speech in Dockers Charter. He said:

! “When my grandchildren say to me in 15, 20, 25 years from now “Where were you when the Liverpool dockers were fighting for their jobs, their community, their dignity and their pride” I want to be able to say: “I was marching on their side”.

! Well we should send a reminder to him from this meeting!

This is just a taste of the priceless reports in the Dockers Charter.

This was a dispute over trade union rights and casualization. The dockers delivered a grim warning of the situation now experienced by millions today on low pay, zero-hour contracts, frail elderly and disabled people receiving care in 15-minute slots, and the continuing brutal anti-trade-union laws..

After 28 months the dockers were forced to abandon their fight.

Jimmy Nolan and Jimmy Davies pub- lished a statement in the paper, and it shows how the Liverpool dockers pointed the way for the movement that arose this summer in support of Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader. They said:

“It need not have ended this way:

! The Labour government could have repealed the anti-trade-union laws, which the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company used to sack us;

! They could have used the government’s ‘golden shares’ in the company to insist on our reinstatement;
! Our union leadership could have mobilised the whole union in our support and called upon the international Transport Workers’ Federation for worldwide support against the shipping companies.

! But Labour governs on behalf of capital and the Trade Union Congress, instead of representing the interests of millions of trade unionists, follows with blind faith a policy of tripartite accord between government, employers and trade unions – upholding the laws of bad employers.

! Meanwhile the global system of capital reaps profit and wreaks havoc. ! If the outcome of the Liverpool dockers’ fight for reinstatement has
shown one thing, it is that we must continue to organise, build confidence and step up the fight against further attacks.”

Now we have the chance for a wide- spread and democratic discussion throughout the Labour and trade union movement, and to learn the lessons of history. The Labour government of 1945 made many changes, but the mixed economy of public and private ownership remained. The private, capitalist sector mobilised their political representatives, and the state forces to destroy our gains. This time we must mobilise and join forces internationally to end capitalism. We must start working for socialism.

Workers International Journal November 2015 Page 14

Tags: Liverpool dockersprivatization
Categories: Labor News

Southwest Airlines suspends 100 ramp workers, alleges illegal sickout

Current News - Sat, 12/19/2015 - 09:43

Southwest Airlines suspends 100 ramp workers, alleges illegal sickout
http://www.star-telegram.com/news/business/aviation/sky-talk-blog/articl...
SKY TALK
DECEMBER 18, 2015 4:14 PM
Southwest Airlines suspends 100 ramp workers, alleges illegal sickout

Union says the suspensions are in retaliation for workers attending union meeting

Suspensions began on Dec. 8 and will last 45 to 90 days without pay

Southwest says workers staged illegal sickout in southern California around Thanksgiving

Members of Transport Workers Union 555, ground workers at Southwest Airlines, at an informational picket at Dallas Love Field last year. The union and management have been in contract negotiations for over four years. (Star-Telegram/Joyce Marshall) Joyce Marshall Star-Telegram
BY ANDREA AHLES
aahles@star-telegram.com

About 100 Southwest Airlines ramp workers are not feeling the love from their employer this holiday season after they were suspended without pay through January.

The Dallas-based airline says the workers used a personal time off policy to take part in an illegal work stoppage in November which affected operations at airports in Los Angeles and Orlando prior to the busy Thanksgiving travel season. The suspensions range from 45 to 90 days; workers were notified of their suspensions on Dec. 8.

The Transport Workers Union, which represents over 11,000 ground workers and baggage handlers, said the suspensions are in retaliation for some workers using the time off to attend a “strike preparedness” meeting held by the union.

“It was pretty much anyone who took that day off, they were suspending them,” said TWU Local 555 President Greg Puriski, adding he was shocked by the company’s actions.

A similar meeting was held in the Metroplex on Friday and was attended by 75 employees, Puriski said. The union held two meetings, one in the morning and then another in the afternoon, so members would not need to take time off to attend.

IT HURTS ALMOST IN A WAY THAT THEY DID THIS TO ME AND MY CO-WORKERS.
Rafael Zavala, suspended Southwest cargo worker

The TWU and Southwest management have been in contract negotiations for four-and-a-half years and have yet to reach agreement. The parties entered federal mediation in 2012 but have not made any progress on a tentative contract.

In November, Southwest filed a lawsuit against TWU Local 555 for what it deemed an “illegal work action.” The lawsuit said ramp workers staged an illegal sickout at four airports in Southern California on Nov. 18 and planned another in Orlando for the Friday before Thanksgiving. The work stoppage in Orlando did not occur, and the lawsuit is still pending in federal court in Dallas.

“We support all our employees and their right to express their opinions,” said Southwest spokesman Bob Hughes. “In this case, however, their union encouraged them to abuse a contractual provision to cause havoc on the system.”

Under the Railway Labor Act, airline unions are not allowed to strike unless federal mediators declare that negotiations are at an impasse and a 30-day cooling off period has occurred.

$70,000 amount raised by the union to support suspended workers
Some of the suspended workers didn’t even attend the meeting, according to a flyer sent out to Local 555 members. San Diego operations agent Sarita Zouvas spent the day buying a turkey, setting up tables and chairs for the annual “friends giving day” party she hosts at her home for other Southwest employees who have to work during the holidays.

Rafael Zavala, who works as a cargo agent at the Ontario, Calif. airport, said he took the day off to care for his seven-year-old son and two-year-old daughter while his wife went to a funeral for a co-worker.

“Never in my eight-year career have I used a personal day,” said Zavala, who didn’t attend the union meeting or plan to do so on that day. “Because of the situation, I didn’t have anything else to use.”

Zavala said his wife has picked up overtime shifts at her job at Kaiser Permanente to help make ends meet during the holidays. But he is worried about the family’s finances and tries to keep busy around the house, cleaning and fixing things.

“It’s stressful and it’s frustrating,” Zavala said, adding he is not allowed to return to work until Jan. 24. “It hurts almost in a way that they did this to me and my co-workers.”

Hughes said the company interviewed about 200 workers who took time off that day and, based on the interviews, it determined about half were not related to the sickout that it believes the union conducted. Southwest determined that some workers may not have attended the meeting but were still supporting the illegal job action.

“We determined circumstances that the company deemed was in violation of the contract,”’ Hughes said, noting the company does not comment on individual cases. “This was not retaliatory in any way.”

The union set up a GoFundMe account to accept donations to help the affected workers make it through Christmas. So far, they have raised about $70,000 to distribute to the suspended employees.

“We’re in uncharted waters for our members,” Puriski said. “We have never gone this long in negotiations before.”

Southwest has reached several new contracts with labor groups this year. However, this fall, both its pilots and flight attendants rejected proposed contracts. Negotiations with those unions are expected to restart next year.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/news/business/aviation/sky-talk-blog/articl...

Tags: SouthWest AirlinesContract
Categories: Labor News

Global: ITUC Statement: International Migrants Day

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 12/18/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

12/17 CWA AFA UAL Day Of Action We deserve a fair contract now!

Current News - Thu, 12/17/2015 - 15:31

12/17 CWA AFA UAL Day Of Action We deserve a fair contract now!
December 17th Stand Together for Better
https://ourcontract.org/news/2015/12/10/december-17th-stand-together-for...
Date: 12/10/2015

We deserve a fair contract now. For over three years, management has used stall tactics to prevent us from reaching an agreement. No more delays – the time is now for a contract we can ratify.

Management Has Failed to Deliver on the Change We Were Promised
Senior executives at United Airlines promised Flight Attendants things would change and that three years of stall tactics would end. Although we have given them every opportunity, company officials are playing the same old delay tactics.

• We are seeing the same company officials at the bargaining table who are responsible for years of discord, division and delay.
• After months of time for preparation, Company bargainers simply reiterated the elements of their July framework, which was driven by eliminating tens of millions of dollars from the current scheduling provisions.
• Although Oscar Munoz and Brett Hart promised to prioritize Flight Attendant negotiations, lower level company officials Jeff Wall and Doug McKeen refused to meet with AFA in December preferring a two month hiatus to engaging in productive bargaining. Their refusal to meet will prolong negotiations and is a failure to acknowledge the change all of us are looking for at United Airlines, all of us who are integral to the success of the airline.
• The new Executive team has failed to replace top labor and inflight management even though United's company performance has lagged behind the industry competitors. The same group that couldn't even get the coffee right! The current labor and inflight team have mismanaged this carrier and failed to conclude the merger. It is long past time for accountability.
Company Demanding Concessionary Agreement
The United Airlines management has a vision of a new contract which, if implemented, would contain the worst scheduling system in the industry. Here are just some of the lowlights of the Company's proposal:

• The Company wants to eliminate or weaken scheduling provisions from all three pre-merger contracts that protect Flight Attendants in reassignments as well as in the order of assignment.
• Company negotiators view this as an opportunity to gain concessionary duty and rest rules. Management is proposing to eliminate provisions that protect Flight Attendants from company abuse. They don't want Flight Attendants to have the option to waive if they want to work beyond these protections; management wants the control in their hands. Management wants total discretion in scheduling, and no flexibility or control for Flight Attendants. That's just not the way it works today under current contracts and it's not the industry standard. It's just another delay tactic.
• Management is proposing to gut scope and job security provisions, leaving Flight Attendants vulnerable to outsourcing or furloughs.
• These provisions are combined with an overall economic framework which will not work for Flight Attendants, including concessions in areas such as health care and retiree medical, while offering grossly insufficient wage increases.
Industry comparison information. More Detail on Management Concessionary Proposals.

How We Can Get an Agreement We Can Ratify.
The contract we reach here will represent the foundational document for the rest of our flying careers. There are two visions in play here. Management's vision is clear, to strip the contract of the good our workgroups have built up over the years, picking the worst provisions or weakening the better ones. Rather than view this merger as an opportunity for improvements for Flight Attendants, they are seeing a chance to impose their vision of the world on Flight Attendants.

The power to change this is in your hands. Here's how you can get a joint contract you can be proud of.

• Join the day of action on December 17, 2015 in order to show United Management that Flight Attendants are unified about reaching an agreement.
• Inform yourself on the process under the Railway Labor Act and watch for more communication from AFA about next steps in the negotiations. Now that we have filed for mediation we have a defined process for reaching an agreement which may include mediation, strike votes, and requests for release.
• Wear your red AFA pin and pay close attention to negotiations updates as things will be heating up.
More information on your Day of Action.

Tags: UALAFAContract
Categories: Labor News

12/17 CWA AFA UAL Day Of Action We deserve a fair contract now!

Current News - Thu, 12/17/2015 - 15:31

12/17 CWA AFA UAL Day Of Action We deserve a fair contract now!
December 17th Stand Together for Better
https://ourcontract.org/news/2015/12/10/december-17th-stand-together-for...
Date: 12/10/2015

We deserve a fair contract now. For over three years, management has used stall tactics to prevent us from reaching an agreement. No more delays – the time is now for a contract we can ratify.

Management Has Failed to Deliver on the Change We Were Promised
Senior executives at United Airlines promised Flight Attendants things would change and that three years of stall tactics would end. Although we have given them every opportunity, company officials are playing the same old delay tactics.

• We are seeing the same company officials at the bargaining table who are responsible for years of discord, division and delay.
• After months of time for preparation, Company bargainers simply reiterated the elements of their July framework, which was driven by eliminating tens of millions of dollars from the current scheduling provisions.
• Although Oscar Munoz and Brett Hart promised to prioritize Flight Attendant negotiations, lower level company officials Jeff Wall and Doug McKeen refused to meet with AFA in December preferring a two month hiatus to engaging in productive bargaining. Their refusal to meet will prolong negotiations and is a failure to acknowledge the change all of us are looking for at United Airlines, all of us who are integral to the success of the airline.
• The new Executive team has failed to replace top labor and inflight management even though United's company performance has lagged behind the industry competitors. The same group that couldn't even get the coffee right! The current labor and inflight team have mismanaged this carrier and failed to conclude the merger. It is long past time for accountability.
Company Demanding Concessionary Agreement
The United Airlines management has a vision of a new contract which, if implemented, would contain the worst scheduling system in the industry. Here are just some of the lowlights of the Company's proposal:

• The Company wants to eliminate or weaken scheduling provisions from all three pre-merger contracts that protect Flight Attendants in reassignments as well as in the order of assignment.
• Company negotiators view this as an opportunity to gain concessionary duty and rest rules. Management is proposing to eliminate provisions that protect Flight Attendants from company abuse. They don't want Flight Attendants to have the option to waive if they want to work beyond these protections; management wants the control in their hands. Management wants total discretion in scheduling, and no flexibility or control for Flight Attendants. That's just not the way it works today under current contracts and it's not the industry standard. It's just another delay tactic.
• Management is proposing to gut scope and job security provisions, leaving Flight Attendants vulnerable to outsourcing or furloughs.
• These provisions are combined with an overall economic framework which will not work for Flight Attendants, including concessions in areas such as health care and retiree medical, while offering grossly insufficient wage increases.
Industry comparison information. More Detail on Management Concessionary Proposals.

How We Can Get an Agreement We Can Ratify.
The contract we reach here will represent the foundational document for the rest of our flying careers. There are two visions in play here. Management's vision is clear, to strip the contract of the good our workgroups have built up over the years, picking the worst provisions or weakening the better ones. Rather than view this merger as an opportunity for improvements for Flight Attendants, they are seeing a chance to impose their vision of the world on Flight Attendants.

The power to change this is in your hands. Here's how you can get a joint contract you can be proud of.

• Join the day of action on December 17, 2015 in order to show United Management that Flight Attendants are unified about reaching an agreement.
• Inform yourself on the process under the Railway Labor Act and watch for more communication from AFA about next steps in the negotiations. Now that we have filed for mediation we have a defined process for reaching an agreement which may include mediation, strike votes, and requests for release.
• Wear your red AFA pin and pay close attention to negotiations updates as things will be heating up.
More information on your Day of Action.

Tags: UALAFAContract
Categories: Labor News

Korea (South): Unions facing crackdown need urgent global support

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 12/16/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITF Global Union
Categories: Labor News

Qatar: Nobel laureate stands alongside ITF Qatar Airways campaign

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 12/16/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITF
Categories: Labor News

Federal officials order DC Metro to fix more than 200 safety issues

Current News - Tue, 12/15/2015 - 19:17

Federal officials order DC Metro to fix more than 200 safety issues
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/federal-officia...

Commuters exit the Federal Center SW Metro station after service was suspended following a non-passenger train derailment Aug. 6. (Amanda Voisard/For the Washington Post)
By Lori Aratani December 15 at 7:52 PM
The Federal Transit Administration on Tuesday ordered Metro to address a list of more than 200 safety issues — some dating back to 2008 — that Metro officials were aware of but may not have resolved, ranging from out-of-date fire extinguishers to derailments and collisions that weren’t made public.

The new safety directive identifies a variety of problems that point to breakdowns in Metro’s procedures. The list also serves to bolster previous reviews that found that many of the transit agency’s workers lack proper training, departments often fail to communicate with one another and Metro doesn’t have a coherent system for ensuring that even the most basic maintenance tasks are completed.

The problems were brought to Metro’s attention by the Tri-State Oversight Committee (TOC), a regional body that previously monitored day-to-day safety at Metro. But because the TOC lacked the authority to force Metro officials to act, some of the concerns languished for years.

[Read the FTA’s safety directive]

Now that the FTA has assumed responsibility for rail safety at Metro, officials at the federal agency say they will push Metro to correct these and other issues it identified in a previous audit of the system.

Play Video2:01Metro's new general manager talks rider concerns with The Post

After less than a week on the job, Metro's new general manager and CEO, Paul J. Wiedefeld, sat down with The Washington Post to discuss safety, fare prices and his plan for system improvements. (Ashleigh Joplin/The Washington Post)
“In many instances, [the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority] has developed, or is in the process of carrying out, corrective action plans that have been approved by the TOC,” said FTA spokesman Nathan Robinson. “However, since many of these findings relate to safety-critical items or activities, the FTA is taking the lead in enforcing WMATA’s implementation of corrective actions.”

Mortimer Downey, the Metro board chairman, said, “These are all things that need to get done, and it is perfectly correct to have FTA follow up on them.”

The 51-page document released Tuesday is an attempt by FTA officials to create a master list of safety concerns at Metro. It is the second safety directive issued by federal authorities; an earlier one outlined how FTA oversight of Metro would work.

[FTA report finds serious safety lapses at Metro]

“Today’s safety directive consolidates the findings from FTA and earlier findings from TOC into a single list that provides helpful clarity and direction,” Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said. “Metro is already working on these corrective actions, and we will continue to work cooperatively with FTA to address each one.”

Metro has 30 days to respond to the directive and 60 days to develop a plan for addressing the problems.

Among the issues: instances in which train, yard and interlocking operators did not follow “critical safety rules,” resulting in at least two train collisions. In another incident, a metal ceiling tile fell onto the trackbed as a train was entering the Smithsonian station. Several of the safety concerns raised in the directive stem from a fatal 2013 incident in which a contract worker was killed and two Metro employees seriously injured after a fire and explosion in a tunnel near Union Station.

The transit agency already is working to address nearly 100 findings from a first-of-its-kind safety assessment released in June by the FTA.

Metro is the first U.S. subway system to be under direct federal supervision for safety. The unprecedented action by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx came after a series of calamites, beginning with a fatal smoke incident in January. One person was killed and scores of other passengers were sickened when a Yellow Line train became stuck in a tunnel just outside the L’Enfant Plaza station and filled with smoke. Service interruptions over the next few months only served to reinforce Metro’s image as a troubled system. In August, an investigation into the derailment of an empty Green Line train found that Metro officials had known for a month that a stretch of track was defective but did not fix it.

[One person dies after a Metro train stalls in a smoke-filled tunnel]

Adding to the system’s woes, Metro had been without permanent leadership since January, after Richard Sarles retired. The board was close to hiring a replacement shortly after Sarles’s departure, but disagreements among members forced them to scuttle the search and start from scratch.

Still, riders and regional leaders are hopeful that the system has begun to right itself.

Last month, the board hired Paul J. Wiedefeld, a former head of Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport and a former Maryland transit official, to be Metro’s new general manager. And a recent budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins July 1 includes several “rider-friendly” initiatives designed to foster goodwill and win back those who have abandoned the system because of poor and inconsistent service.

[Transportation inspector general to audit FTA’s oversight of Metro]

Even so, Metro and the FTA continue to be under scrutiny. The investigative arm of the Department of Transportation announced last week that it would audit the FTA’s oversight of Metro’s rail system.

That audit will look into whether the FTA has the tools and the personnel to carry out its new role overseeing the safety of Metro’s rail operations.

Tags: oshaDC Railsafety
Categories: Labor News

Burkina Faso: Unions suspend indefinite strike against military coup

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 12/15/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: StarAfrica
Categories: Labor News

Korea (South): KCTU leader turns himself in, calls for general strike Wednesday

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 12/15/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Korea Times
Categories: Labor News

Fleet Memo for December 12 2015

IBU - Tue, 12/15/2015 - 14:07
.
Categories: Unions

PSR Fleet Memo for December 5 2015

IBU - Tue, 12/15/2015 - 14:05
.
Categories: Unions

14 Airports in Greece to Be Privatized in $1.3 Billion Deal

Current News - Tue, 12/15/2015 - 11:34

14 Airports in Greece to Be Privatized in $1.3 Billion Deal
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/15/business/international/14-airports-in-...
By NIKI KITSANTONISDEC. 14, 2015

<15privatize-web-master675.jpg>
The airport in Thessaloniki, Greece, is among the 14 to be managed by Fraport and its Greek partner, the energy firm Copelouzos. CreditAlexandros Avramidis/Reuters

ATHENS — Greece’s leftist-led government on Monday signed its first major privatization deal, granting a German company the right to lease and manage more than a dozen regional airports.

The contract, worth 1.2 billion euros, or $1.3 billion, is part of an effort to privatize state assets and adopt economic changes demanded by international creditors under Greece’s €86 billion bailout program. Some other measures are under debate in the Greek Parliament and are scheduled for a vote Tuesday night.

The airport management contract had been under negotiation with the German company, Fraport, when Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his leftist Syriza party stormed to power in January. The party pledged to end years of austerity and foreign oversight by the country’s creditors: the other nations that use the euro, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The airport contract talks were revived only after Mr. Tsipras capitulated to creditors during the summer as Greece teetered on the brink of bankruptcy, accepting the country’s third bailout since 2010.

The government’s debt problems have for years deprived many Greek airports of sufficient money for maintenance and modernization. One exception is the Athens airport, which has already been partly privatized and generally lives up to its role as a modern international hub.

Under the accord, Fraport and its Greek partner, the energy firm Copelouzos, have secured a 40-year lease on 14 provincial airports, including those on the popular tourist islands of Corfu, Mykonos, Rhodes and Santorini.

The consortium, which is to assume management of the airports in the fall of 2016, has agreed to pay annual rental fees of €23 million and to spend €330 million over the next four years to revamp the facilities, which in many cases are dilapidated and substandard. The consortium said it planned to invest €1.4 billion over the life of the lease.

Commenting after the signing, Stergios Pitsiorlas, the head of Greece’s privatization agency, described the deal as “a very significant development and a strong message, in all directions, that the Greek economy is winning the trust of markets and entering the road toward growth.”

Since 2010, when Greece signed its first international bailout, its creditors have pushed it to privatize state assets as a way of raising much-needed revenue and spurring growth. However, several governments displayed little appetite for selling assets, and only around €3 billion in revenue has been raised so far through privatizations.

The current bailout program calls for the government to raise an additional €6.2 billion from selling or awarding management contracts for state-owned assets over the next three years, money that is to go toward reducing national debt and increasing sorely needed investment.

The latest package of economic measures now under debate by Parliament includes the creation of a new privatization fund that would be jointly supervised by Greek and foreign officials. Other actions on the list include overhauling the Greek energy sector and allowing the sale of delinquent loans held by Greek banks to so-called distressed debt funds. (Greece’s creditors are particularly concerned about an estimated €107 billion of nonperforming loans that are sapping the country’s banks.)

The new measures are widely expected to pass in Tuesday night’s vote because the government’s Syriza-led coalition has a majority, albeit by three seats, in the 300-member Parliament. The package must be approved if Greece is to receive its next allotment of €1 billion in bailout money.

A series of austerity measures and economic overhauls adopted over the last two months has fueled public anger and prompted two general strikes. Mr. Tsipras, who once railed against austerity, has insisted that Syriza has not forgotten its pledges to restore social justice.

The government will face a much tougher test next month when it tries to overhaul Greece’s costly and dysfunctional pension system. Greek officials are resisting calls for more cuts to pensions, noting that payments have been cut more than 10 times in the last six years. They are seeking other ways of bolstering the system, notably by imposing higher social security contributions for employers and workers.

The idea is said to have been greeted with skepticism by creditors, though, as unemployment remains high and thousands of businesses are struggling to remain afloat.

Securing support for an overhaul of the pension system is likely to be the biggest challenge yet for Mr. Tsipras.

Tags: privatizationairportsGreece
Categories: Labor News

Seattle becomes first US city to let Uber, Lyft drivers unionize

Current News - Mon, 12/14/2015 - 22:01

Seattle becomes first US city to let Uber, Lyft drivers unionize
http://www.sfgate.com/business/technology/article/Seattle-becomes-first-...
Phuong Le, Associated Press Updated 6:24 pm, Monday, December 14, 2015

Photo: Ted S. Warren, AP
FILE - In this March 12, 2014 file photo, Katie Baranyuk gets out of a car driven by Dara Jenkins, a driver for the ride-sharing service Lyft, after getting a ride to downtown Seattle. Seattle may soon become the first city to let drivers of ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft collectively bargain over pay and working conditions.

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle on Monday became the first city in the nation to allow drivers of ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft to unionize over pay and working conditions.
Supporters erupted into cheers after the City Council voted 8-0 in favor of the legislation, which is seen as a test case for the changing 21st century workforce. The companies strongly oppose it, and several council members acknowledged there would be legal challenges ahead but said it was worth doing.
The measure requires companies that hire or contract with drivers of taxis, for-hire transportation companies and app-based ride-hailing services to bargain with their drivers, if a majority shows they want to be represented. Drivers would be represented by nonprofit organizations certified by the city.
Seattle has been a national leader on workers' rights, such as gradually raising the minimum wage to $15 and requiring most employers to provide paid sick leave.
"My intent is to make sure that the people, the drivers, the workers in our community continue to have access to good wage jobs," Councilmember Mike O'Brien said. He added innovation can continue to happen, but it shouldn't be done at the expense of workers.
Many drivers in Seattle are immigrants who depend on full-time work, but some make less than minimum wage and lack basic worker rights, such as sick leave and protection from retaliation, he said.
The National Labor Relations Act does not extend collective bargaining rights to independent contractors.
San Francisco-based Uber and others say federal labor law prevents cities from regulating collective bargaining, and the ordinance would violate federal antitrust laws. Opponents also argue it would be costly for the city to implement, it would violate drivers' privacy since their information would be given to the organization, and it would stifle the growth of the on-demand economy.
In a response to a request for a comment on the legislation, Uber said in a statement Monday it is "creating new opportunities for many people to earn a better living on their own time and their own terms."
San Francisco-based Lyft urged the mayor and council to reconsider the measure and listen to those who seek the flexible economic opportunity the company offers.
"Unfortunately, the ordinance passed today threatens the privacy of drivers, imposes substantial costs on passengers and the city, and conflicts with longstanding federal law," Lyft's statement said.
Charlotte Garden, an assistant law professor at Seattle University, said it's a "virtual certainty" that the ordinance will be challenged in court if it's enacted.
"I anticipate that other cities will consider similar measures, but they may wait to see whether the ordinance survives review by a federal court," she said.
Mayor Ed Murray told the council in a letter Monday he supports the right of workers to unionize but has concerns about the bill. Murray worried about the unknown costs of administering the measure.
Murray said after the vote that he wouldn't sign the legislation but under the City Charter it will still become law.
Uber has about 400,000 drivers nationwide with about 10,000 in Seattle. Its rival, Lyft, also has thousands of drivers in Seattle but declined to give a specific number.
Legal experts have been mixed on how the bill would be challenged in court, including whether the ordinance violates antitrust laws because it would allow drivers to get together and set rates.
Uber is facing a class-action lawsuit in federal court in California over worker classification. The plaintiffs named in the suit say they are Uber employees, not independent contractors, and have been shortchanged on expenses and tips.
Uber and Lyft say drivers have flexibility in deciding when they work and how many hours, and many chose to drive to supplement their income. But drivers don't have a say in rate changes, can be deactivated at will and don't have access to worker protections such as sick leave and minimum wage laws, Dawn Gearhart, a representative with Teamsters Local 117.
Under the proposed ordinance, the city will give certified nonprofit organizations a list of eligible drivers at each company, and the groups must show that a majority of drivers of each company want representation. The organizations would then bargain on behalf of those drivers.
"This is amazing," said Saad Melouchi, 30, who drives for Uber. "I'm so happy for myself and for other drivers."
He said he would like to bargain over safety, living wage and other issues.
Some for-hire drivers who spoke at the public hearing urged the council to hold off on the legislation, saying they didn't have a voice in the process.
The Teamsters Union Local 117 also celebrated the vote, while the National Right To Work Legal Foundation criticized it as a violation of drivers' rights.

Tags: SeattleUberLyft driversunionize
Categories: Labor News

Dear Signet, don’t let Rio Tinto take the sparkle out of Christmas

ILWU - Mon, 12/14/2015 - 16:20

This holiday season, unions are again calling on one of the world’s largest jewellery retailers to clean up its supplier of diamonds. They are urging Signet to demand that multinational mining and metals giant Rio Tinto respect workers’ rights, indigenous peoples and the environment.

With global sales of US$6 billion annually, Signet’s Kay, Jared and Zales are found across the US, Peoples and Mappins stores are throughout Canada, and H. Samuel and Ernest Jones shops are visible on UK high streets.

The unions are calling on Signet to abide by its own Responsible Sourcing Policy. This policy declares the company “committed to the responsible sourcing of our products and the respect of human rights, and we expect the same from our suppliers around the world.”

Read more about the campaign here.

Categories: Unions

China: Cops crackdown on labour rights activists. Sign the petition here

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 12/14/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IUF
Categories: Labor News

Iran: Detained teacher unionist on hunger strike

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 12/14/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Education International
Categories: Labor News

Tom Perez, Obama's Secretary Of Labor And TPP Supporter Pushing Hillary

Current News - Mon, 12/14/2015 - 11:51

Tom Perez, Obama's Secretary Of Labor And TPP Supporter Pushing Hillary

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/tom-perez-pitching-clinton-to-labor-un...

Tom Perez met with two members of unions, Unite Here and the Service Employees International Union, in Las Vegas on Dec. 7. (AP Photo)
Labor secretary pitching Clinton to unions
By SEAN HIGGINS (@SEANGHIGGINS) • 12/13/15 12:01 AM
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Labor Secretary Tom Perez is using his position to try to build union support for Hillary Clinton. The Cabinet official has been doing campaign stops on her behalf, speaking to labor groups.

Perez met with two members of unions, Unite Here and the Service Employees International Union, in Las Vegas on Dec. 7.

"I'm proud as hell to endorse Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States," Perez told SEIU members, according a YouTube clip the union posted. "What gets her up in the morning is all of the issues that you fight for every day."

It is unusual for sitting Cabinet members to campaign for a presidential candidate, but it is not unprecedented. Kathleen Sebelius, then the Health and Human Services secretary, was found in 2012 to have violated the Hatch Act when she campaigned for Obama at a taxpayer-funded event in North Carolina that year. The law that prohibits executive branch employees from engaging in political activity while on duty or in the federal workplace.

More from the Washington Examiner
Obama officials take victory lap over 'paper tiger' climate deal
By John Siciliano • 12/14/15 1:35 PM

It is unlikely that Perez violated the act even though he was speaking to labor organizations, which are directly affected by his agency's actions, because his appearances, unlike Sebelius', do not appear to have involved taxpayer-funded events.

"Cabinet secretaries have much more leeway. The law is really about the use of taxpayer resources more than anything," said Meredith McGehee, policy director at the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center.

"Per the Hatch Act, the secretary's travel was paid for by the [Clinton] campaign. I would direct the other questions to the campaign," said Labor Department spokeswoman Mattie Zazueta.

The department declined to answer whether Perez would be doing further campaigning for Clinton.

Matt Patterson, executive director of the Center for Worker Freedom, a nonprofit affiliated with the conservative group Americans for Tax Reform, said the incident showed the Obama administration was in cahoots with organized labor.

Also from the Washington Examiner
Obama praises Paris Agreement as strong first step in tackling climate change
By Kyle Feldscher • 12/12/15 5:59 PM

"At the very least Perez — by urging union members to support Hillary Clinton for president — has abandoned any pretense that his Labor Department is interested in a nonpartisan adjudication of federal labor law. His goal is to increase the power of union bosses, who pick the pockets of workers to fund left-wing causes and candidacies," Patterson said.

Obama's Labor Secretary Tom Perez: A case for the TPP
http://www.dailycamera.com/guest-opinions/ci_27928948/case-tpp

By Tom Perez
POSTED: 04/16/2015 07:25:17 PM MDT

Our nation's economy is experiencing a dramatic comeback.

As President Obama took office in 2009, we faced the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Millions of Americans had lost their jobs or their homes. American manufacturing was flat on its back.

But thanks to the president's steady leadership, the ingenuity of American businesses, and the resilience of our workers, we've made a remarkable turnaround. We've now seen 61 consecutive months of private sector job growth — the longest streak on record — with 12.1 million new jobs created.

But the president knows this progress doesn't mean we stop. Instead, he's using the momentum to shore up and build on these successes. That's why he's proposing free community college for everyone willing to work for it. It's why he wants to expand access to broadband. It's why he's pushing to provide paid leave for more working families.

And it's why he wants to pursue trade agreements with the strongest labor and environmental commitments in history. As the president said in his State of the Union address, he is asking Congress to give him bipartisan trade promotion authority to "protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren't just free but fair."

U.S. export sales reached a record $2.34 trillion in 2014. Exporting firms exhibit higher productivity, and the jobs they support pay, on average, up to 18 percent more than jobs in non-exporting intensive industries.

Those national trends hold true in Colorado, where increased trade is helping drive economic growth. A total of $8.4 billion in goods were exported from thousands of Colorado companies in 2014, 26 percent more than in 2004. And it is estimated that exports of Colorado goods (not including services) supported nearly 44,000 jobs last year.

Most of these Colorado exporters are small- and medium-sized businesses, like Lightning Eliminators & Consultants, Inc., in Boulder.

Lightning Eliminators designs and manufactures equipment to protect facilities from lightning strikes. The company, which has 27 employees, exports to over 80 countries around the globe. More than 60 percent of its sales can be attributed to exports. President and CEO Matt Napier says the knowledge gained from doing international business "has been integral to Lightning Eliminators' continued success, and without exporting, that success would be limited." Expanded market opportunities through trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will help companies like Lightning Eliminators grow further and create more jobs.

Understandably, some are concerned about the impacts of new trade agreements. They raise valid questions about protecting jobs and wages, about workers' rights and environmental protections. Recognizing that previous trade agreements have not always lived up to the hype, the president is deeply committed to raising the bar on these issues.

That means making sure that under our trade agreements, countries must — and in practice do — meet strong labor standards. And it means including enforcement mechanisms to hold them accountable to those commitments. The president is asking for support from Congress to help make this happen by passing Trade Promotion Authority. This way, international trade not only reflects our national values; it also helps U.S. companies and workers compete on a level playing field. As the president said in the State of the Union, if we don't establish tough, fair rules through trade agreements, countries like China will write those rules. That would threaten American jobs and workers — and our access to the fastest growing markets in the world.

A trade policy that's good for the middle class must also make sure that our workforce system and the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program can act quickly and flexibly to help transitioning workers access new skills and find new opportunities. It must also do more to see that the gains from trade are more broadly shared. That's why we are taking steps to lift wages, for example by revising the rules that determine eligibility for overtime pay. It's why we continue to push for an increase in the national minimum wage that will give a raise to millions of workers.

Trade agreements like the TPP are critical to our 21st century competitiveness. With the help of Trade Promotion Authority, we can use these agreements to raise labor standards and improve working conditions around the world while ensuring a level playing field for our workers back home. And we can use them to grow our own economy and create new opportunities for Colorado workers and businesses.

Tom Perez is the U.S. secretary of labor.

Tags: Tom PerezTPPObamaHillary
Categories: Labor News

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