Port of Oakland prepares for planned closure
Exclusive: Port of Oakland prepares for planned closure
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has revealed that the Port of Oakland is braced ahead of a planned closure on 1 May, as part of a social justice protest.
The ILWU local union 10 has submitted a request to employers, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) to temporarily halt labour at the port in public demonstration against police brutality in the United States.
Mike Zampa, commercial director at the Port of Oakland, explained: “The longshore agreement has a monthly stop work meeting, which means for one shift each month labour doesn’t report to the docks and conducts a union meeting. That meeting is normally on the second or evening shift, however our understanding is that labour has requested that the meeting is conducted in the day shift or first shift. The Port is awaiting confirmation of an agreement of this from the Pacific Maritime Association.”
“The Port of Oakland is notifying customers that this agreement is in the works as a precaution, it is up to shipping lines and terminals to make arrangements to address the suspension of operations of 1 May. The request is for the day shift, as a result, operations could resume for the second shift depending on how the request is handled by the PMA. It is in the port’s best interests for work to continue safely and without interruption at all times,” he added.
The labour force has played an integral part in social justice movements in the past including the Big Strike in 1934 as well as the anti-Apartheid movement in 1984.
A spokesperson for the ILWU told CM: “The decision was reached by the local 10 union and not by the ILWU as a whole. A request has been submitted to the employers at the specific maritime association and is expected to be mutually agreed by both parties.”
The protest is expected to cause minor disruption and affect congestion at the port, just two months after labour disputes left a backlog of ships at West Coast ports. It has been confirmed that the Port of Oakland has now cleared the backlog of ships and almost all cargo backlogs since February’s closures.
The protest is being supported by a number of community organisations including the Transport Workers Solidarity, Love Not Blood Campaign, the Anti-Police-Terror project and many more.
Teamsters and retirees have launched a petition campaign calling on the Central States Trustees, Susan Mauren – the Fund’s designated Retiree Advocate -- and IBT President James Hoffa to support an independent actuarial audit of the Central States Pension Fund to determine the extent and necessity of pending benefit cuts.
These Teamsters are calling for a “second opinion” with experts chosen by the pension protection committees across the region, prior to any rollout of the so-called “rescue plan” by the Fund. The “rescue plan” will propose to slash promised pensions for current and future retirees covered by the Central States.
Click here to sign the online petition.
Click here to download a paper copy.
Circulate the petition at local union meetings, retirees clubs, and Teamster worksites.Issues: Pension and Benefits
Law360, Los Angeles (April 23, 2015, 8:16 PM ET) -- The Ninth Circuit affirmed a lower court’s punitive damages award of $6.6 million to a former employee of United Parcel Service Inc. who had alleged wrongful termination in connection with a previously filed overtime class action suit, ruling that the evidence was sufficient to support the jury’s verdict.
Former employee Michael Marlo filed suit against UPS in 2008 alleging wrongful termination in retaliation for filing a 2003 class action against the company for unpaid overtime. UPS contends that it fired Marlo because of an abusive confrontation he had with a customer. A jury sided with Marlo in 2012, awarding him $2.2 million in compensatory damages and an additional $16 million in punitive damages, later reduced to $6.6 million.
On appeal, UPS challenged the punitive damages award, saying the evidence was insufficient to support the jury’s finding that Tim Robinson, the vice president and district manager who fired Marlo, was a “managing agent” of UPS.
A three-judge Ninth Circuit panel disagreed, ruling 2-1 in favor of Marlo.
“Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Marlo, as we must … we conclude that the evidence was sufficient to support the jury’s verdict,” the panel wrote in the five-page unpublished opinion. “The evidence showed that Robinson was the highest-ranking supervisor in a 7,000-employee district that covered a vast geographic area.”
Robinson viewed part of his role as maintaining company culture, the Ninth Circuit said, and that he had viewed Marlo’s overtime class action as a threat to company culture which also had a negative effect on employee morale.
“The jury could thus reasonably conclude that Robinson’s decision to terminate Marlo was a policymaking decision aimed at protecting the company ‘culture,’” the panel states. “We also conclude that Robinson’s conduct was sufficiently reprehensible to qualify for punitive damages under California law. The award, as reduced by the district court, was not unconstitutionally excessive.”
Thursday’s order makes the case the largest punishment ever upheld on appeal in California in a single-employee wrongful termination case, as stated by UPS in its opening brief to the Ninth Circuit.
In a one-sentence dissenting opinion, U.S. District Judge James G. Carr, sitting by designation, said he was “aware of my lesser familiarity with California law relating to managing agents.”
A UPS spokeswoman told Law360 on Thursday that it was disappointed with the ruling and is currently mulling its options.
“UPS has a strong compliance program that includes professional conduct, anti-harassment and no-retaliation policies,” spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg said.
A representative for Marlo did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
U.S. Circuit Judges Andrew J. Kleinfeld and Jacqueline H. Nguyen sat on the panel that wrote Thursday’s opinion, along with U.S. District Judge James G. Carr.
Marlo is represented by John Furutani of Furutani & Peters LLP and Mark Christopher Peters of Duckworth Peters Lebowitz Olivier LLP.
UPS is represented by Elena R. Baca of Paul Hastings LLP, Elizabeth A. Brown of Grube Brown & Geidt LLP and Mark A. Perry of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP.
The case is Michael Marlo v. United Parcel Service Inc., case number 12-57170, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
West Coast Port Truckers Strike in California
By Al Jazeera America
28 April 15
Strike has major implications for LA and Long Beach, which handle 43 percent of containerized goods entering US
undreds of truckers who haul freight from the California ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach launched a strike Monday against four ground-shipment companies — a move that could revive labor tensions at the nation’s busiest cargo hub.
The outcome of the dispute has implications for hundreds of companies and thousands of truckers in Southern California serving the ports, which handle 43 percent of containerized goods entering the United States.
Delegations of drivers notified the companies of their intent to strike at 6 a.m., with picket lines going up immediately at the companies' truck yards, said Teamsters spokeswoman Barb Maynard. The strikers also plan to picket marine terminals, rail yards and other locations where the companies dispatch trucks.
The companies affected by the strike are Pacific 9 Transportation, Intermodal Bridge Transport, Pacer Cartage and Harbor Rail Transport.
Another company, Green Fleet Systems, was hit by previous port truck strikes; the Teamsters are not including the company in this strike because the two parties have agreed to "a comprehensive labor peace agreement," said a statement put out by Green Fleet and the Teamsters on Monday. As part of the agreement, Green Fleet Systems will allow its drivers to choose whether to join a union.
The truckers at the other companies accuse them of carrying out wage theft by illegally misclassifying drivers as independent contractors instead of employees with the right to union representation. Pacific 9 driver Amador Rojas, speaking in a media conference call through a translator, complained that drivers are expected to pay out of pocket for truck maintenance.
Pacific 9's requirement that drivers pay for their own truck maintenance "is one of the issues causing distress not just for us but for our families as well," he said.
About 500 port truckers have filed wage claims with state labor officials accusing their companies of misclassifying them as freelancers and charging them to lease the trucks they drive.
Thousands more drivers have yet to file claims, and national port-trucking companies could be liable for wage and hour violations of up to nearly $1.4 billion annually, the labor-backed National Employment Law Project has estimated.
As part of the labor action beginning on Monday, the drivers are asking the mayors of Los Angeles and Long Beach to meet with the truck companies to discuss working conditions.
In January truckers won a $2 million judgment against Pacer Cartage in a misclassification suit supporters say could bolster class-action litigation against other companies. But Pacer has said it would appeal the decision.
It was not immediately clear how disruptive the union's action will be. A series of similar strikes last year caused little disarray at the ports.
The action comes as West Coast port cargo traffic has returned to normal after months of slowdowns over a dispute between shipping companies and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. That dispute was resolved in February with a five-year labor accord.
April 28, 2015: UPS announced it hauled in over $1 billion in profits in the first quarter. The numbers show that harassment and outsourcing are paying big dividends for UPS execs, at a steep price for UPS Teamsters.
Hoffa and Ken Hall bragged the new contract would improve problems with harassment and Surepost. But that talk isn’t backed up by the numbers.
UPS’s revenue was lower than expected, but profits were higher. That means that UPS squeezed more profit out of every Teamster than even Wall Street expected. UPS SurePost rose by 77 percent.
The unit that includes UPS Freight and supply chain services showed 6.9% higher profit at $151 million, overall, the company reported profits of $1.03 billion after taxes.
UPS also announced that CEO Kurt Keuhn will retire on July 1. He will be replaced by a bean-counter, Martin Peretz, is currently Brown’s corporate controller and treasurer.
That appointment signals that UPS’s corporate direction will remain the same. But the direction of our Teamsters Union is in the members’ hands—and will be decided in the 2016 election which gets underway now.
Read UPS’s corporate profits report here.Issues: UPS
Weeks after the crippling port strike was resolved, here comes the LA Teamster trucker strike
• STEVE GORMAN, REUTERS
• APR. 27, 2015, 9:37 AM
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Truckers who haul freight from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will go on strike against four ground-shipment companies on Monday, a Teamsters union official said, in a move that could revive labor tension at the nation's busiest cargo hub.
Delegations of drivers planned to notify the companies of their intent to strike at 6 a.m. Pacific time, with picket lines going up immediately at the companies' truck yards, Teamsters spokeswoman Barb Maynard told Reuters.
The strikers also plan to picket marine terminals, rail yards and other locations where the companies dispatch trucks, Maynard said.
The truckers accuse the companies of wage theft by illegally misclassifying them as independent contractors, and the drivers demand to be treated instead as employees with the right to union representation.
Roughly 500 truckers in all work for the four companies - Pacific 9 Transportation, Intermodal Bridge Transport, Pacer Cartage, and a Pacer subsidiary, Harbor Rail Transport - with many of those drivers expected to take part in the strike, Maynard said.
The outcome of the dispute has implications for hundreds of companies and thousands of truckers in Southern California serving the twin ports, which handle 43 percent of containerized goods entering the United States.
About 500 port truckers have filed wage claims with state labor officials accusing their companies of misclassifying them as freelancers and charging them to lease the trucks they drive.
The state has ruled on at least 56 such claims so far, siding in every case with drivers in awarding them back wages and penalties, the Teamsters say.
Thousands more drivers have yet to file claims, and port trucking companies in California could be liable for wage and hour violations of up to nearly $1 billion each year, the labor-backed National Employment Law Project has estimated.
In January, truckers won a $2-million judgment against Pacer Cartage in a misclassification suit supporters say could bolster class-action litigation against other firms. But Pacer has said it would appeal the decision.
It was not immediately clear how disruptive Monday's actions might be. A series of such strikes last year caused little disarray at the ports.
The action comes as West Coast port cargo traffic returns to normal after months of slowdowns over a dispute between shipping companies and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. That dispute was resolved in February, with a five-year labor accord.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)Tags: LA Teamster Truck Strike
Hong Kong dock workers threaten strike action amid 8.5pc pay rise demand
PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 April, 2015, 1:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 April, 2015, 11:58pm
Dock workers went on strike for 40 days in 2013 to demand better pay and conditions. Photo: Sam Tsang
Dock workers have demanded an 8.5 per cent pay rise and told contractors to start talks if they want to avoid a repeat of the strike that rocked the Kwai Tsing container terminals for 40 days in 2013.
Carlos Hung Chun-ngai, director general of the Union of Hong Kong Dockers, demanded contractors respond to their requests by Friday next week.
Otherwise, Hung said, the union would first organise a protest and then gradually escalate its actions, possibly culminating in a strike.
"We haven't ruled out any actions that are necessary to make ends meet," he said. His union represents 1,200 of the 3,000 workers hired by contractors at the Kwai Tsing terminals.
A spokeswoman for port operator Hongkong International Terminals (HIT) said the company was discussing the matter with the contractors. A pay rise would be announced soon and would go into effect on Friday next week, she said.
She did not give a figure but said it would be higher than the inflation rate. February's composite consumer price index was up 4.6 per cent on the same period a year ago, according to official data.
In 2013, hundreds of dock workers employed by HIT contractors went on a strike to call for higher pay and better working conditions. They initially demanded a raise of about 17 per cent, saying their pay had gone up just once in 15 years.
They eventually accepted a 9.8 per cent pay rise, ending one of the longest walkouts in the history of Hong Kong.
Last year, they were offered, and eventually accepted, a further basic salary increase of 6 per cent and an extra 4.1 per cent performance-based raise, to be given to those who could maintain productivity at the same level as the second half of 2013.
One docker, Chan Yum-wo, said he and his fellow workers were not demanding a lot.
He became a docker in 1994 and was paid HK$1,436 for each 24-hour shift.
After their wages were cut in 1996, Chan's pay then went up to HK$1,591 last year - a raise of just HK$155 in 20 years.
"This is a sum that just makes you want to cry," he said.
Chan added that the raise was clearly not enough to keep pace with increasing food prices and rents over the years.Tags: Hong Kong dockworkers strike
LA Truckers may put it in idle
Drivers at busiest port complex in U.S. could stay away
By The Associated Press
Published: April 26, 2015, 4:42 PM
LOS ANGELES — Truck drivers who haul goods from the nation’s busiest port complex in Southern California could stay off the job this week as part of a long-running labor dispute, union officials said Friday.
It won’t be clear until this week how many of the drivers stay away, but the action could disrupt business at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles as soon as Monday, after an expected vote this weekend.
About 16,000 drivers work at the ports, most of them independent contractors for trucking companies. The truckers say they face shrinking wages and want to become employees of the trucking companies, which they say would mean better wages and workplace protections.
Port of Los Angeles spokeswoman Rachel Campbell said it was too soon to say what, if any, impact a work stoppage could have on port business. Port of Long Beach spokesman Art Wong said “we are hoping we can continue to move cargo and people can go about their business.”
Earlier this year, tough contract negotiations with dockworkers nearly closed 29 seaports from San Diego to Seattle, causing major delays in the delivery of billions of dollars of imports and exports.
Teamsters spokeswoman Barb Maynard said the drivers have been victims of “persistent wage theft that has characterized the industry and impoverished so many drivers.”
Last summer, strikes by truckers briefly closed the massive ports.
Trucking companies have argued that driver pay is good and picketing at the ports did not represent the majority of drivers.
The Southern California ports are the primary West Coast gateway for hundreds of billions of dollars of annual trade with Asia.Tags: LA Port Truckers
Nepal: Earthquake: ITUC Calls for Huge International Effort: Gulf States Must Allow Migrant Workers to Return Home
TWSC Supports Korean General Strike
Statement To KCTU on Launching General Strike On April 24
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Transport Workers Solidarity Committee sends send our solidarity for your general strike on April 24, 2015. Your fight against privatization of the Korea Railways and against the deregulation of the economy and growing repression against the Sewol families are not just Korean issues but issues in the United States and internationally.
We continue our efforts to educate the US labor movement about the issues that you face and also for solidarity action by US unions. We are also supporting the ILWU Local 10 call for a work action on May Day against the racist police murders particularly against African American and Latino youth and workers.
The growing militarization of the police in the US and repression is very much connected to the US push for militarization of Asia including the building of the JeJu base which will be used for US naval ships. While the US, Korean and Japanese government spend billions for more wars they are attacking social services privatizing public resources through agreements like the KORUS and TPP.
We support your strike and hope it is successful in defeating this reactionary Park government.
Transport Workers Solidarity Committee