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New dispute adds to unrest in Norwegian ports


ITF - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 09:23
The ITF is stepping up support for affiliated dockers’ unions in Norway following a reported attempt by an employer to undermine them.
Categories: Union Federations

Virgin America workers voting on TWU union again for flight attendants

Current News - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 09:19

Virgin America workers voting on TWU union again for flight attendants
http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/bottomline/article/Virgin-America-wo...
By Andrew S. Ross

June 26, 2014 | Updated: June 26, 2014 5:48pm

Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle

Virgin America workers will vote on union representation next month. It is the second attempt to organize employees of the airline.
Might the second time be a charm for attempts to unionize Burlingame'sVirgin America, the last nonunion U.S. airline in the country?

Pay, scheduling problems, uncompensated time and discipline procedures are among the issues pro-union flight attendants have raised among the approximately 850 eligible to vote. The issue went down to defeat in 2011.

"We're confident we'll see a similar outcome this time," said Virgin America spokeswoman Jennifer Thomas.

"We have a much bigger majority eligible to vote this time. We're going to do our talking with our votes," said Thom McDaniel, international vice president of the Transport Workers Union of America, which is organizing the drive.

Judging by their competing websites (company:www.keepitvirgin.org; union: www.twuvx.org), the campaign is pretty intense ahead of the monthlong balloting, beginning July 16.

Virgin America, the Bay Area's sole airline, is rated consistently at or near the top among domestic airlines in customer polls and industry surveys.

"We believe we got where we are today in large part because we've worked together as one team with a common focus on making flying good again," Thomas said. "It is our view that a third party like the TWU would only detract from that."

"They always have the same lines," responded McDaniel, a 22-year flight attendant. "They talk about a 'third party,' but they have a third-party lawyer working for them. It's also an insult to the flight attendants."

Both sides, however, are looking to be friends. "We respect our teammates' freedom of choice. We're looking to have a constructive, cooperative relationship with them," McDaniel said.

Tags: TWUVirgin Americaunionization
Categories: Labor News

Colombian Bus Drivers Protest Repression and Firings

Current News - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 09:02

Colombian Bus Drivers Protest Repression and Firings
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4Gh-6dfcXo
BLOQUEO AVENIDA EL DORADO SNTT COLOMBIA

conduciendo esperanzas·517 videos

Published on Jun 10, 2014.

Bus workers fight for reinstatement
http://www.itfglobal.org/news-online/index.cfm/newsdetail/10624?frmSessi...
27 June 2014

ITF activists protesting in Bogotá, Colombia earlier this month faced tear gas and rubber bullets as they fought to improve working conditions.

One member of the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores del Transporte (SNTT) was injured along with other protestors outside the offices of bus rapid transit (BRT) company Transmilenio. Transmilenio has oversight of the BRT but outsources routes to nine operators, who are able to set standards independently.

Workers were protesting against alleged labour rights abuses at the employer. According to the union, five thousand drivers work twelve-hour days without overtime payment or basic benefits.

The protest was organised when one of the BRT operators fired four SNTT members for their union activities. The union demands the reinstatement of these workers, and that workers’ rights throughout the company be respected. SNTT has also called for intervention and support for two BRT operators who were put out of business by Transmilenio. Finally, the union is calling for improved security, efficiency and punctuality across the system, as well as a police apology for the violence meted out against protestors.


ITF Americas regional secretary Antonio Rodríguez Fritz said: "BRT is key to improving public transport in Latin America. But it must not be used as an excuse to reduce labour rights or break the law. Transmilenio is responsible for managing the transport system, and it must ensure its operators obey safety and labour standards. Now is the time for Transmilenio to obey and enforce the law, to negotiate with SNTT, and to sign an agreement which is fair for workers and passengers alike.”

Tags: Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores del Transporte (SNTT)Colombian Bus Drivers
Categories: Labor News

Thailand and Qatar downgraded for workers’ rights abuses

ITF - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 02:48
The ITF applauded the action taken over modern-day slavery in Thailand and Qatar as the US downgraded both countries on its human trafficking watchlist.
Categories: Union Federations

Bus workers fight for reinstatement

ITF - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 02:18
ITF activists protesting in Bogotá, Colombia earlier this month faced tear gas and rubber bullets as they fought to improve working conditions.
Categories: Union Federations

Workers beat worsening conditions with rail strike

ITF - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 02:06
Rail workers in Sweden celebrated a victory on Wednesday as employers Veolia agreed to a deal, bringing a 16-day long strike to an end.
Categories: Union Federations

7/3 SF Protest At Brazilian Consulate-Stop Repression And Union Busting:Rehire The 42 Brazilian São Paulo Metro workers' union members

Current News - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 09:08

7/3 SF Protest At Brazilian Consulate-Stop Repression And Union Busting:Rehire The 42 Brazilian São Paulo Metro workers' union members

Using Soccer FIFFA Games Brazilian Government Attacks Transit/Public Workers With Repression, Union Busting And Privatization

Protest Rally For 42 Fired São Paulo Metro workers' union members
Thursday July 3, 2014 4:00 PM
300 Montgomery St #300, San Francisco, CA 94104

Bring Your Placards, Banners And Balls

Initially Sponsors
United Public Workers For Action
www.upwa.info
info@upwa.info
Transport Workers Solidarity Committee
www.transportworkers.org
(415)282-1908

URGENT CALL FROM BRAZIL: WE NEED YOUR SOLIDARITY

Sao Paulo Transit Workers: Intensify the struggle, defend the right to strike, prevent any punishment, we want to negotiate now.

Everyone has been following the mobilizations going on in Brazil with strikes and demonstration by workers and popular organizations expressing their indignation about the World Cup with its astronomic costs and corruption, all in function of the interests of the multinational companies and FIFA.

But at the same time people have been .putting forward their concrete struggles making demands for salaries, rights, housing, better public services. They have denounced repression and criminalization of dissent, etc.

At this moment, the transit workers in Sao Paulo are in the fifth day of a strike which began last Thursday. The transport workers carry 4,000,000 passengers every day in the city where, next Thursday, June 12, the opening of the World Cup will take place. Because this strike is so important, the government has decided that it has to be defeated come what may. It is seeking to impose an end to the strike and also prevent the mobilizations from escalating in the coming days.

Brazilian Justice, working hand in hand with the interests of the government, big business and FIFA declared the strike illegal today and demanded that the transit workers return to work immediately. It has established a daily fine of US$ 250,000 on their union for non-compliance.

This decision by the Justice Ministry allows the government to dismiss the strikers, contravening all their legal and economic rights.

We are counting on the support and solidarity of all the Brazilian union centrals that are organization initiatives in support of the strike (see note below)

The Union and the workers have decided to continue the strike, despite the government’s orders, in order to defend their demands and also to defend their right to strike.

We need your support and solidarity. Send messages to the e-mails below, post photos on social networks, broadcast this call on your lists and web sites

Full support for the Sao Paulo Transit Workers

Response to the demands of the transit sector

In defence of the right to strike.!

No to repression, no punishment!

Alckman negotiate!

Altino Prazeres

President, Sao Paulo Transit Workers Union

International Network of Solidarity and Struggle

CSP Conlutas - Brasil

Solidarity With Brazil Sao Paulo Transit Workers-Money For Football But Not Transit Workers
Solidariedade internacional: greve dos metroviários
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5078LVQotPs

6-24-14WW Brazil Sao Paulo Transit Workers Strike & FIFA Football Privatization
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio/6-24-14ww-brazil-sao-paulo-transit...
WorkWeek investigates the strike by Sao Paulo transit workers
and the growing repression and privatization in Brazil and the
connection between FIFA and the Olympics with Sao Paulo
transit union steward Rodrigues Guilherme and Professor George
Wright
Production of WorkWeek Radio
For more info workweek@kpfa.org
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio

Brazil Sao Paulo Transit Strike Called Off-42 Workers Fired
http://www.thestate.com/2014/06/11/3500783/subway-strike-suspended-in-sa...
Brazil averts subway strike on eve of World Cup
BY ADRIANA GOMEZ LICON AND JOSHUA GOODMAN
The Associated PressJune 11, 2014
A threatened second round of a subway strike in Sao Paulo would cripple transportation in South America’s biggest city. Authorities are counting on the subway to carry most fans to Sao Paulo games. RODRIGO ABD — AP Photo

SAO PAULO — A subway strike in Sao Paulo that threatened to disrupt the opening of the World Cup was averted Wednesday night even as airport workers in Rio de Janeiro declared a 24-hour work stoppage in the main destination for soccer fans traveling to Brazil.

Some 1,500 subway workers in Sao Paulo voted against going back on strike in a pay dispute. They had suspended the walkout Monday amid a popular backlash and government pressure to end the transportation chaos in Brazil's biggest city.

"We thought that right now it's better to wait," union president Altino Prazeres said, but added that he wouldn't rule out resuming the strike sometime during the monthlong soccer tournament. "We get the feeling that maybe we aren't as prepared for a full confrontation with police on the day the World Cup starts."

The union said its members would hold a march Thursday morning demanding that 42 workers fired during the five-day work stoppage are rehired.

World Cup organizers are counting on Sao Paulo's subway system to carry tens of thousands of fans Thursday to Itaquerao stadium, where Brazil will play Croatia in the tournament's first game far from the hotel areas where most tourists are staying.

Even as tensions eased in Sao Paulo, labor conflicts heated up in Rio, where fans were arriving ahead of Sunday's match between Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

On Wednesday, check-in counter clerks, baggage handlers and janitorial staff who have been demanding raises of at least 5.6 percent for several months voted to strike starting at midnight. The work stoppage will affect the city's Galeao international airport as well as the Santos Dumont airport that connects Rio to other Brazilian destinations

A union representative said only 20 percent of workers would stay off the job for 24 hours, abiding by a labor court order that threatened to fine unions more than $22,000 if staffing fell below 80 percent of normal levels. The official agreed to discuss specifics of the walkout only if not quoted by name because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly.

The airport workers' strike is the latest unrest to hit Brazil as workers battered by several years of high inflation take advantage of the spotlight from the World Cup to pressure for pay raises from employers and the government.

In the northern city of Natal, where the United States plays its first game Monday against Ghana, bus drivers will stay home Thursday for at least 24 hours to press their demands for a 16 percent pay increase.

Teachers remain on strike in Rio and routinely block streets with rallies, and subway workers in that city briefly threatened a walkout. Police in several cities have also gone on strike in recent weeks, but are back at work now.

There also has been a steady drumbeat of anti-government protests across Brazil criticizing the billions spent on hosting the World Cup and demanding improvements in public services. The protests that began last year have diminished in size but not in frequency, and they also have disrupted traffic at times.

Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/2014/06/11/3500783/subway-strike-suspended-in-sa...

Subway workers demand the reinstatement of the sacked workers
http://www.litci.org/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=249...
BRAZIL
Written by PSTU - Brasil
Wednesday, 18 June 2014 00:02

At a meeting in June 11, the subway workers of São Paulo approved a campaign for the reinstatement of the 42 workers dismissed from the Metro Company for participating in the strike.

Of these, 11 are directors of the union. They also decided not paralyze the activities on the 12th, but remain mobilized. Three workers were reinstated, but the subway workers will continue fighting for the reinstatement of all.

"There is no vandal here. The only vandal is the governor Geraldo Alckmin," said Altino Prazeres, president of the union and PSTU's militant. He also said that the sector was proud of the five-day strike they have done.

On June 12, the opening day of the World Cup, the sector participated in the protest against the injustices of the Cup. The concentration for the act was scheduled for 10 am in front of the of Subway Workers Union.

Reinstatement now!

The subway workers held one of the strongest strikes in their history. With a membership participation close to 100% in almost all workplaces, the sector faced the intransigence of Alckmin's government and its subservient Labor Justice, in addition to a massive campaign by the media in order to turn the public opinion against the workers.

The PSDB's government, however, besides refusing to negotiate, deployed the Shock Troops against the employees on strike and yet determined the dismissal of 42 workers. Even when the Company's board of directors was waving in rediscussing layoffs, Alckmin personally decided to maintain the arbitrary measure, proving that it was a political attack to weaken the mobilization and make the subway workers an example to other working sectors.

The subway workers strike, however, managed to bring together a broad support, from other branches of workers both around the country and internationally. A significant part of the population expressed support for the workers on strike, condemning the repression and cruelty of the "tucano" government.

It's time now to strengthen the campaign for the reinstatement of the subway workers. This struggle is not only for reinstating the dismissed workers to their jobs, but it is a struggle for freedom of organization and strike by the working class.

Click here and sign the petition in support of the immediate reinstatement of the subway workers!
https://secure.avaaz.org/po/petition/LUIS_ANTONIO_CAMARGO_DE_MELO_MPT_Cl...
#somostodosmetroviários #readmissãojá

10.0003.354
3.354 assinaturas. Vamos chegar a 10.000
Por que isto é importante

São Paulo,10 de junho de 2014

Lutar é direito.

Desde o inicio da campanha salarial dos metroviários foram feitas diversas iniciativas de interlocução junto ao governo do estado no sentido de se evitar a greve sem que esta obtivesse sucesso, mas não satisfeito em ignorar a justas demandas da categoria e da população "para fechar com chave de ouro" o senhor governador instaura a "caça as bruxas".

É preciso responsabilidade algo que parece falta ao Senhor Geraldo Alckmin
A mobilização que está longe de terminar alçou a luta dos metroviários a um patamar de destaque dentro de um contexto que indica um viés de aumento das lutas trata-se de uma das maiores e mais longas greves da categoria, com um grau de adesão que se aproximou dos 100% e contou com repercussão internacional.

Alertamos que a truculência e intransigência do PSDB só aumentou a indignação da categoria, que promete não se curvar às arbitrariedades do governo ainda assim durante a última assembléia houve mais um gesto de boa vontade na negociação, recuaram ao estado de greve, mas todos entoaram alertando: "Nenhuma demissão! Nenhuma demissão!".

A metroviária Camila Lisboa, uma das demitidas sintetiza o sentimento de todos: "Temos que continuar essa luta, não por nossas pautas, mas pelo direito de lutar".

Os trabalhadores e trabalhadoras de várias categorias que subscrevem este documento entendem como irregulares as demissões dos quarenta e dois servidores (as) metroviários (as) em primeiro lugar por entender que o direito de greve é um principio inclusive constitucional, em segundo lugar pelo critério de escolha que passou eminentemente pelo papel de liderança que estas pessoas ocuparam no processo denotando clara perseguição política.
Não podemos aceitar o uso do poder de estado para calar vozes dissonantes, tão pouco o uso de violência e tortura como ocorreu com Murilo Magalhães estudante de direito e ativista do Centro Acadêmico de Direito da PUC e da ANEL que foi submetido a espancamento e humilhações homofóbicas.

E por isso exigimos a readmissão de todos (as) os demitidos e que sejam abertas investigações quanto ao tratamento dispensado a Murilo.

Tags: Sao Paulo Transit Workerssolidarityworkers partyFIFA
Categories: Labor News

Local 43 Merges into Local 200

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 06:47
Olivia HitchcockThe Journal TimesJune 26, 2014View the original piece

With the addition of Racine Teamsters, the Milwaukee-based Teamsters chapter now has more than 600 new members.

After an “overwhelming” vote by the Racine Teamsters chapter, Local 43, the group will be merging with Milwaukee in an attempt to increase resources and power for members, according to a press release sent by the Milwaukee group.

Click here to read more at The Journal Times.

Issues: Local Union Reform
Categories: Labor News, Unions

How Do Los Angeles Uber Drivers Protest? They Take a Beach Day

Current News - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 22:28

How Do Los Angeles Uber Drivers Protest? They Take a Beach Day
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-06-25/how-the-teamsters-union-...
Transportation

How Do Los Angeles Uber Drivers Protest? They Take a Beach Day

By Josh Eidelson June 25, 2014

(Updates with Uber comment in the fourth paragraph; corrects the third paragraph to note the D.C. protests did not involve drivers for app-based services)
Inspired by their counterparts in Seattle, Uber drivers in Los Angeles are organizing to demand greater transparency and more cost-sharing from the company—efforts they say could ultimately escalate to a strike. “It’s a wonderful technology, and something that is certainly here to stay,” says Joseph DeWolf, an Uber driver who is leading the charge. The problem, he says, is Uber’s culture: “The rules don’t apply to them.”

DeWolf says he and his fellow drivers were spurred by concerns over the company’srefusal to shoulder responsibility for insuring drivers; capricious-seeming policy changes, such as a recent announcement that pre-2010 cars will be phased out for Uber Black or Uber SUV services; and opaque disciplinary procedures.

DeWolf has the backing of the Teamsters, who have also been involved in organizing drivers, both app-based and not, in Seattle and taxi drivers in Washington, D.C., where disgruntled cabbies staged a moving caravan protestWednesday morning against a city council ordinance allowing Uber and other companies, such as Lyft and Sidecar, to operate.

STORY: Cabsplaining: A London Black Car Driver on the Uber Protest
Uber says the Teamsters are “focused on recruiting membership and filling their coffers.” In an e-mailed statement, Eva Behrend said, “Uber partner drivers have a direct line into the Uber team, and we will continue to work with them to ensure their small businesses thrive.”

Drivers face an uphill battle. Even if every Uber driver in the country wanted to unionize and collectively bargain with Uber, U.S. law doesn’t require Uber to negotiate, because the drivers are currently considered independent contractors, not employees. “If it comes to it, says DeWolf, drivers should call the industry’s “independent contractor” bluff and stage a walkout some Monday morning, rather than logging in to their apps. “Perhaps, you know, have our meeting at Santa Monica Beach, and a picnic as well,” he says.

If Uber users miss flights and meetings, says DeWolf, “it may send a message that the Uber system/platform is more than just technology.” If those investors valuing the company at $18.2 billion have to recognize “that part of that valuation is the cars and the drivers themselves,” he adds, “I think that is a heavy hammer to wield on our part.”

Tags: Ubercab drivers
Categories: Labor News

Iraq: Profonde inquiétude pour le sort des migrants pris en otage

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: CSI
Categories: Labor News

Palestine: Hamas-hired workers in Gaza strike for wages in test for unity deal

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Reuters
Categories: Labor News

Iraq: Grave Fears for Kidnapped Migrant Workers

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

MUA’s campaign to counter Chevron labor attacks goes global with help from ILWU & other allies

ILWU - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 14:42

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) is working closely with the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the ILWU and other allies on a global education campaign to show why Chevron – not workers – is responsible for bloated budgets and growing delays on a massive natural gas project in northwestern Australia.

Blaming workers

Chevron triggered the campaign by blaming members of the Maritime Union of Australia for self-inflicted problems with the company’s “Gorgon” project that intends to develop, produce and ship natural gas in liquefied form (LNG) from offshore locations. The project’s initial price tag of $37 billion has since swollen to $54 billion.

Lawsuit and threats

When the MUA tried to negotiate an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement for maritime workers in the offshore oil and gas sector, Chevron rejected the union’s proposals and dug in their heels. Despite repeated efforts by the union, Chevron stopped talking. Following a legitimate health & safety dispute that briefly delayed the departure of a barge, Chevron declared war on union members by filing a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against the MUA. Chevron then upped the ante with an expensive and deceptive public relations campaign to smear the union by claiming that workers were making unreasonable demands for hundreds of dollars an hour, thus jeopardizing the project and causing cost-overruns.

Exploiting foreign workers

Chevron and other corporate investors in Australia have been testing the waters with a strategy to lower labor costs and destroy unions. The scheme involves importing contract laborers from low-wage countries to work on projects in Australia – paying the immigrants half or less of the Australian union rate – with no worries about unions, safety complaints or other problems.

Dave Noonan of Australia’s Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) says his union has filed complaints about foreign worker abuse since 2010, but little has been done by the Australia’s anti-union government.

“Australian workers are telling us they are applying for jobs on these projects and don’t even get a call back,’’ he said. Mega-profits & dangerous blunders Chevron, like other oil companies, has enjoyed massive windfall profits in recent years with earnings further enhanced by huge taxpayer subsidies.

The Northern California-based corporation reported profits of $21.4 billion in 2013 and $26.2 billion in 2012. Once seen by investors as the hottest growth prospect among major oil companies, Chevron has stumbled recently in the wake of a refinery explosion and fire in Richmond, CA that nearly killed a dozen Chevron workers and sent over 10,000 residents to local hospitals with concerns about respiratory problems.

Support to set the record straight

In early May, 2014, Will Tracey, MUA’s Assistant Secretary for the Western Australia Branch and ITF Australia Campaign Director Shannon O’Keeffe arrived in California to conduct research and establish new contacts. They were assisted by the ILWU and the United Steelworkers Union, which represents refinery workers in many Northern and Southern California sites – including Chevron’s refinery in Richmond, CA where the 2012 explosion nearly killed a dozen of their members.

After meeting with the ILWU International Executive Board, who pledged their solidarity and support, Tracey and O’Keeffe met with other unions, community and environmental organizations that monitor Chevron’s behavior in Richmond and around the world.

The whirlwind tour included interviews on a local radio station, briefings with Richmond City officials who are trying to hold the company more accountable, and discussions with key environmental leaders from Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), Movement Generation, Amazon Watch, and others.

“We learned a lot from our visit, including the fact that Chevron’s disrespectful behavior in Australia is similar to how they seem to operate in Richmond and around the world,” said O’Keefe, who ventured with Will Tracey to Chevron’s headquarters in the pristine suburb of San Ramon, CA to inspect the corporate campus.

Lessons learned from the MUA’s California visit include:

• Chevron has cut corners on safety by avoiding preventive

• Chevron has been charged with serious violations by state a federal safety inspectors;

• Chevron had 5 significant accidents at their Richmond refinery in the past 10 years;

• Chevron admitted committing six criminal charges at their Richmond refinery in 2013;

• Chevron received Cal/OSHA’s highest safety-related fines in history in 2013;

• Chevron has committed 169 air quality violations during the past six years; and,

• Chevron plans to increase cancer causing chemicals and greenhouse gas released in Richmond;

Meeting with Wall St. analysts Armed with new information and contacts from their California visit in early May, the MUA team returned to Australia for some catch-up and preparations. But within two weeks, O’Keefe and the campaign were back in the United States in late May. Their first stop was a New York City meeting with Wall Street analysts who closely follow Chevron’s operation in order to alert investors of potential problems ahead.

Analysts were interested in hearing more about the Gorgon gas project, especially details about the delayed timelines, budget problems and company’s provocative labor posture that includes growing litigation expenses.

Texas shareholder meeting

The next stop on the campaign trail was Chevron’s annual shareholder meeting on May 28, where investors are allowed to ask top management questions about company policies. Previous

Chevron shareholder meetings have taken place in the San Francisco Bay area, near the company’s headquarters. But this year, Chevron tried to hide from critics and the media by moving the shareholder meeting to Midland, Texas. The MUA team and their allies weren’t subdued by Chevron’s last-minute

switch and came prepared with proof of their shareholder status. The campaign delegation included MUA National Secretary and ITF President Paddy Crumlin, Western Australian Branch Assistant Secretary Will Tracey and ITF Australia Campaigns Director Shannon O’Keeffe. The trio listened patiently until the floor was opened for questions.

Counterpunching

Then they set the record straight about the real reasons why Chevron’s massive Gorgon project had gone off the rails in Australia. They explained how the company wasted money on expensive public-relations and lobbying consultants who unfairly blamed the Gorgon’s bloated budget and tardy timelines on the MUA.

“Gorgon is an important project for both Chevron and the Australian national interest in the development of our nationally-owned resources,” said MUA National Secretary and ITF President Paddy Crumlin. “We’ve been trying to reach a reasonable agreement with Chevron for years, but each approach has been firmly rebuffed by the company. Chevron should sit down with the unions to develop a sustainable and functional relationship with its workforce.”

Crumlin noted that the Gorgon is one of the largest LNG (liquefied natural gas) projects in the world – and that those energy resources belong to the Australian people. He said Chevron should develop a good relationship with workers on the project and maintain community support. So far, he said, it has been a dismal failure. Crumlin concluded with some colorful Aussie language that may have baffled Chevron’s top brass: “The company needs to get a grip, cop its stuffups on the chin and return to a mature and balanced industrial relations model, more suited to Australian values underpinning economic and commercial success.”

Chevron CEO backtracks

Crumlin’s comments drew a response from Chevron’s top dog, CEO John Watson. Their exchange was covered in a Reuters news report about the shareholder meeting. Unlike Chevron’s strategy in Australia that scapegoated the union, Watson was careful to avoid any suggestion that labor costs had contributed to the Gorgon’s busted budget. Instead, the CEO mentioned bad weather, a rise in the valuation of Australia’s currency, and increasing material prices. He added that Chevron is committed to using union labor in Australia and closed with a clear statement that amounted to a welcome and refreshing flip-flop: “We have no intention of blaming organized labor for cost overruns or delays at Gorgon.”

Business school exposé

In addition to verbal sparring with company officials, the MUA team used the shareholder meeting to release a research port about the Gorgon project conducted by the University of Sydney Business School, which offered a thorough analysis of the project’s problems.

Authored by Professor Bradon Ellem, the report titled, “What is Happening on Chevron’s Gorgon Project?” concluded that delays and cost problems were due to logistical challenges and poor management decisions – not unions and labor issues which played a negligible role.

The report noted that wages are only a small part of the project’s overall cost, with maritime labor estimated to be only 1%. He also found that most of the financial figures used in public debates were misleading, and suggested that Chevron should engage workers in a more cooperative approach to increase efficiency.

‘Wealth of untapped worker experience’

The report suggested Chevron should utilize workers’ “untapped wealth of experience and ideas about how to deliver the project on-time and on-budget,” and encouraged Chevron to rethink the issues and stop blaming workers. The report also chided management for shifting responsibility from themselves to workers, noting that “neither Chevron nor the partners and contractors appear to see themselves as in any way accountable for the failings on their project. In short, both the evidence presented here and the pattern of blame-shifting raise questions about management practice and management accountability.”

MUA WA Branch Secretary Christy Cain welcomed the report as a “wake-up call” and hoped it would influence much of the Australian media that has blamed workers for the Gorgon’s problems.

Western Australian Branch Assistant Secretary Will Tracey praised the report for showing how time and money could be saved through closer engagement with union workers who want the Gorgon project to succeed.

“There’s a lesson in this report – not just for Chevron, but for the media commentators pushing for lower labor standards as some sort of economic panacea. The real key to unlocking Australian workplace productivity is through better engagement and cooperation between management and workers – not screwing down wages and eroding conditions in an adversarial environment.”

Categories: Unions

‘Fight for 15’ wins historic wage increase in Seattle

ILWU - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 11:20

The Seattle City Council voted unanimously on June 2 to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 hour. The minimum wage ordinance, which more than doubles the current federal minimum wage, was an important victory for labor activists and puts Seattle in the forefront of national efforts to address income inequality by raising the wage floor for the city’s lowest paid workers.

The “Fight for 15” was a major campaign platform for both Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Council member, Kshama Sawant. Sawant’s election received national attention because she ran her campaign as an openly socialist candidate.

The ordinance was passed with several concessions to businesses that have been criticized by labor activists. The wage increase will be phased in over seven years, with different schedules for small and big businesses (defined as more than 500 employees) and for
business that provide health care coverage or where workers receive tips.

In another concession to business, upon the approval of the state Department of Labor and Industries, employers will be allowed to pay a wage lower than the city minimum—but higher than the state minimum—for the employment of “learners, of apprentices, and of messengers employed primarily in delivery of letters and messages,” and “individuals whose earning capacity is impaired by age or physical or mental deficiency or
injury.”

The ordinance also contains a provision for a sub-minimum wage-rate for teenagers. Employers will be allowed to pay 85% of the minimum wage to workers under the age of 18. Despite these compromises, Seattle’s minimum wage ordinance is a historic victory for activists. At their May membership meeting, ILWU Local 19 members
voted in favor of a resolution supporting the minimum wage increase.
Even though longshore workers will not be directly affected by the ordinance, Local 19 President Cameron Williams said that it is important to help the City’s lowest paid workers.

“The seventh guiding principle of the ILWU reminds us that unless workers organize, wages, like water, will flow to the lowest level,” Williams said. “Wages in the country have been a downward slide for decades for most workers. It’s time to turn the tide on that trend.”

Local 19 Executive Board member Justin Hirsh said the final ordinance was not perfect and he acknowledged the leadership of Councilmember Sawant. “Kshama and her team fought up to the last minute to make this ordinance the best it could be. This is a
precedent-setting victory and we move forward from here,” Hirsh said.

Categories: Unions

Proposed Rail MTA Contract Offer Scorned by Rail Unions, L.I.R.R. Faces Strike By Angry Union Members

Current News - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 11:15

Proposed Rail MTA Contract Offer Scorned by Rail Unions, L.I.R.R. Faces Strike By Angry Union Members
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/25/nyregion/contract-offer-scorned-lirr-f...
By MATT FLEGENHEIMERJUNE 24, 2014
Photo

Anita Miller is director of labor relations for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. CreditChang W. Lee/The New York Times

Fearing a strike on the Long Island Rail Road, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said on Tuesday that it had expanded its offer to union leaders, granting “everything that they’ve asked for,” with raises of 17 percent over seven years.

But shortly after the proposal was unveiled, Anthony Simon, the leader of the railroad’s largest labor group, criticized the offer, which was presented on Monday, as “way below” what the unions had requested.

The unions have indeed called for 17 percent raises, but over six years, not seven. The authority’s proposal also requires new employees, hired after the potential ratification, to contribute 4 percent of their salaries toward the cost of their health insurance. Current employees would be asked to contribute 2 percent. Under the expired agreement, employees did not contribute any of their salaries to health care.

New hires would also be asked to contribute to their pensions for longer than veteran employees.

The offer does not include changes to work rules.

Anita Miller, the authority’s director of labor relations, said the authority had repeatedly improved its offer over the last several months.

“The Long Island Rail Road unions have not modified their position one cent,” she said.

Railroad workers voted in February to authorize a strike. It could take place as early as July 20, potentially stranding about 300,000 daily riders and creating an election year headache for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Since December, two federal mediation panels have rejected the authority’s contract proposals for rail workers. The most recent ruling, delivered in May by a three-member board appointed by President Obama, called union leaders’ offer of a 17 percent raise over six years “the most reasonable.”

The authority offer at the time had called for an 11 percent raise over six years — a deal modeled after an agreement that subway and bus workers ratified last month, according to the authority.

The latest offer, officials said, was based on the parameters laid out by the federal mediation panel.

Mr. Simon suggested that the change in course from the authority, which had previously said it could not afford such large increases, raised doubts about its credibility.

“Their strategy has changed every single step of the way,” he said. “They just look like liars.”

Ms. Miller warned that it would be “a grave mistake” for the railroad workers to strike.

Adam Lisberg, a spokesman for the authority, said that possible contingency plans, including a shuttle bus system, could carry only a small fraction of the railroad’s ridership. “Nothing can accommodate them all,” Mr. Lisberg said. “That’s why there is a Long Island Rail Road.”

Tags: MTA Long Island Railroadstrike
Categories: Labor News

Tribute sculpture for former ILWU President Jimmy Herman at SF’s Pier 27 moves forward

ILWU - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 10:50

On June 10th the Port of San Francisco was presented with a gift agreement for the James R. Herman Tribute Sculpture that will be placed at the Pier 27 cruise ship terminal. The terminal is named in honor of former ILWU International President and former San Francisco Port Commissioner, Jimmy Herman. The gift proposal, valued at $250,000, must now be approved by the Board of Supervisors.

The sculpture will be a wall-mounted, interactive audio-visual installation measuring 10-feet high by 15-feet long. The sculpture will resemble the waves of the bay. Housed within it will be a touch screen that will allow visitors to scroll through biographical information about Herman and will also include a directional sound system that will allow visitors to hear highlights from Herman’s speeches.

The installation is expected to be completed by the end of October. Sean Farley, ILWU Local 34 President and Chair of the James R. Herman Memorial Committee, said that the purpose of the sculpture is to commemorate Jimmy Herman’s contribution to the labor movement and to the San Francisco waterfront.

“We wanted to reflect what Jimmy was about—his history, his legacy, his commitment to social justice movements and his contributions as a Port Commissioner—all the facets of who he was in his life. We also had to take into account what Pier 27 is—a world-class cruise terminal facility. We wanted a tribute that is commensurate with that facility and we think we’ve done that.”

“Jimmy was a true working class hero. He tried to make everyone around him better,” said ILWU International Secretary Treasurer Willie Adams. Adams also serves as a Port Commissioner and Vice President of the San Francisco Port Commission. “The cruise ship terminal and this sculpture will be a great tribute to his legacy.”

ILWU members along with other members of the local community including former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi formed the James R. Herman Memorial Committee to raise money for the creation of the sculpture and its maintenance for the next 20 years.

The Committee is still $120,000 short of its goal. If you would like to contribute, please contact Sean Farley or Allen Fung at ILWU Local 34: (415) 362-8852. The committee has applied for non-profit status and is awaiting final approval from the IRS.

Categories: Unions

Longshore Safety Committee is negotiating for more protection against deadly hazards

ILWU - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 10:28

While the ILWU’s Longshore Negotiating Committee continues meeting with Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) officials to reach terms on a new Longshore & Clerks Contract that will replace the one expiring at midnight on June 30th, eight members of the ILWU’s Safety Sub-Committee are also trying to negotiate new ways to protect workers from dangerous hazards and deadly injuries.

“We opened our safety negotiations by telling employers that we need a stronger Safety Code to protect everyone on the docks,” said Local 10 member Ed Ferris, Chair of the Safety Sub-Committee. “Our goal is to improve safety on the waterfront.”

The “Safety Code” is a 168-page document formally known as the ILWU-PMA Pacific Coast Marine Safety Code.

“It’s our bible,” says Local 98 member Paul Weiser, a veteran dockworker with over five decades of experience who knows the risks involved. “This job can kill you in a second – before you even know what hit you.”

Weiser serves on the Safety Committee with seven co-workers: Ray Benavente of Local 13 representing Maintenance and Repair; Tracy Burchett of Local 53 representing Small Ports; Committee Secretary Luke Hollingsworth from Local 13 representing the Southern California Region; Committee Vice-Chair Mike Podue of Local 63 representing Marine Clerks; Adam Wetzell of Local 8 representing the Oregon/Columbia River region; and Ryan Whitman of Local 23 representing the Washington/Puget Sound Region.

Local 63’s Mike Podue agrees the work is dangerous. “The last time we crunched the fatality numbers, it showed West Coast longshore workers had higher fatality rates than police officers and fire fighters,” he said. “That leaves a lot of room for improvement.”

Local 8’s Adam Wetzell says he’s seen what can go wrong when companies cut corners on safety and maintenance. “Our container terminal operator in Portland is ICTSI, and they’ve been cited by OSHA for putting workers at risk. Our jobs are already dangerous enough without employers who make it worse.”

The Safety Committee has been meeting steadily since May 12 and aims to make improvements in the Safety Code. “We’ve got work to do that can save lives, but every bit of progress requires a real struggle with the companies,” said Ray Local 13 member Ray Benavente.

“I’ve been through this before and know how hard it is to strengthen the safety rules,” said Tracy Burchett of Local 53. “The employers always have some reason why they resist improving the Safety Code – but it usually comes down to saving time and money.”

Ryan Whitman of Local 23 says the Safety Committee’s work is important, “but it’s only half the battle, because we need every longshore worker to respect and understand the rules – and feel comfortable pushing back when corners get cut.”

Safety Committee members intend to keep working down to the June 30th wire – and beyond if necessary – to reach agreement on a revised and improved Safety Code.

“Almost all injuries are preventable,” said Local 13’s Luke Hollingsworth, “and we shouldn’t have to wait for the next tragedy to make things safer.”

Categories: Unions

YRC Freight Proposed Change of Operations

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 09:17

June 25, 2014: YRC Freight has submitted a proposed change of operations to the IBT which would re-open distribution centers in Memphis and Houston, and reclassify Seattle as a distribution center. The change will be heard on July 23, and the company wants implementation on August 17.

119 dock, switcher, road, mechanic, and office jobs will be affected. Losing terminals will be Dallas, Nashville, Jackson, Miss., Little Rock, and Portland, Oregon. The company is proposing a follow the work bidding process. Memphis retains the “retreat rights” from a previous change.

Click here to read the proposed change of operations.

Issues: Freight
Categories: Labor News, Unions

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