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Could a California labor ruling drive Uber under?

Current News - Mon, 06/22/2015 - 11:23

Could a California labor ruling drive Uber under?

By Heather Smith on 17 Jun 2015 19 comments
The internet is in a tizzy at the moment at the news that the California Labor Commission has ruled that an Uber driver who worked for the company in San Francisco is an employee, not a contractor. It’s “Uber’s worst nightmare,” says the headline in Slate. Meanwhile, Uber maintains that the ruling is a non-binding resolution that applies to a single driver.

But the California case is not the only one. In May of this year, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity decided that a former Uber driver was also an employee, and was therefore eligible for unemployment.

The California case is very specific to Barbara Ann Berwick, the Uber driver in question. But the commission’s overall decision reads as though its members would very much like to apply it much more widely. Here’s what their ruling said about Uber:

Defendants hold themselves out as nothing more than a neutral technological platform, designed simply to enable drivers and passengers to transact the business of transportation. The reality, however, is that Defendants are involved in every aspect of the operation. Defendants vet prospective drivers, who must provide to Defendants their personal banking and residence information, as well as their Social Security Number. Drivers cannot use Defendant’s application unless they pass Defendant’s background and DMV checks.

Defendants control the tools drivers use; for example, drivers must register their cars with Defendants, and none of their cars can be more than ten years old. Defendants refer to “industry standards” with respect to drivers’ cars, however, it is unclear to what industry, other than the “taxi industry, Defendants are referring.”

That’s basically the legalese version of a glove slap — and it’s likely to be used as precedent by class action lawsuits that are already pending against Uber in California.

When is some fancy new technology platform a totally rad and amazing breakthrough, and when is it just a way to gain an unfair advantage over existing businesses? Was Amazon.com, with its customer reviews and algorithms, really that revolutionary? Or was it just a clever way to get around paying the sales tax that came with maintaining a physical storefront?

When I wrote about Uber and Lyft earlier this year, I wondered the same thing about their business model. Did they earn their multi-billion dollar valuations and unicorn status by being way better than a conventional taxi company? Or by managing to claim that they aren’t taxi companies at all, and therefore don’t need taxi medallions or commercial insurance the way that regular taxi companies do?

Meanwhile, some states collect sales tax from Amazon, and some don’t. Some states (and cities) collect hotel taxes from Airbnb, and some don’t. How far away is regulation of these highly valued startups, since so many other employment-related lawsuits are in the works? What would that mean for the future of Uber, and the people who may or may not work for it?

As a nation, we’ve spent the last 150 years pinging from one new form of transportation to another. Railroads were a great form of mass transit, but they also were so corrupt and monopolistic that people raced to replace them with the automobile. Automobiles provided freedom of movement and good jobs for the people who made them, but they also polluted the air, clogged city streets, and ultimately made life and work miserable for anyone who didn’t have one.

Uber, along with other companies like it, has the potential to be a source of good jobs and a valuable addition to city transit networks. But if it keeps going down the maximalist, take-no-prisoners road it seems to favor, it just might engineer its own obsolescence.

Tags: Taxiregulationindependent contractorUber
Categories: Labor News

ICTSI Oregon Leads Congressional Effort to End West Coast Labor Slowdowns "The Preventing Labor Union Slowdowns Act of 2015"

Current News - Mon, 06/22/2015 - 11:18

ICTSI Oregon Leads Congressional Effort to End West Coast Labor Slowdowns "The Preventing Labor Union Slowdowns Act of 2015"
ICTSI Oregon Leads Congressional Effort to End West Coast Labor Slowdowns
June 22, 2015 12:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time
PORTLAND, Ore.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Preventing Labor Union Slowdowns Act of 2015 (PLUS Act) was introduced last Thursday in the United States Senate to help prevent the type of maritime labor slowdowns at the Port of Portland and 28 other West Coast ports that disrupted domestic and international trade and nearly brought the U.S. economy to a standstill earlier this year. The PLUS Act, which was introduced by Idaho Senator James Risch, was the result of efforts by ICTSI Oregon, Inc., the terminal operating company for the Port of Portland’s Terminal 6, to focus congressional attention on the ongoing problem of maritime labor slowdowns.

“This legislation represents an important change to maritime labor law that will go a long way toward ensuring a more stable work environment at West Coast ports, one in which innocent parties are not subjected to severe economic damage by unfair union slowdown tactics.”

The measure would amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to make intentional slowdowns by maritime unions an unfair labor practice. Offending labor organizations would be subjected to federal court injunctions against slowdowns as well as damage claims to injured parties. Intentional slowdowns are orchestrated campaigns by labor unions such as the International Warehouse and Longshore Union (ILWU) to essentially engage in a strike with little or no cost to their members. In contrast to a formal strike, however, union workers continue receiving full pay and benefits, even as they inflict significant damage on the local, regional and national economies.

“As a port operator, ICTSI Oregon has deep relationships with local small businesses, farmers, and the import and export community throughout the Columbia River region and Western states. We identify with the significant pain they continue to experience as a result of the ILWU’s actions during the most recent contract negotiations,” said ICTSI Oregon CEO Elvis Ganda. “If enacted, the PLUS Act will help ensure that a small number of workers cannot engage in unfair labor practices that threaten our nation’s economic prosperity and hold our economy hostage.”

While intentional slowdowns are not a significant problem in most segments of the U.S. economy, they are a major and growing problem in the maritime industry, particularly the West Coast. Currently, a loophole in the NLRA has allowed the ILWU to use slowdowns as leverage against ports and port operators—particularly during contract negotiations. As a result, the last three contract negotiation years have seen major disruption to the West Coast and U.S. economy. In 2002, a 10-day shutdown as a result of labor slowdowns cost the U.S. economy an estimated $15.6 billion. This past year, economists report that slowdowns subtracted a full percentage point off the entire U.S. GDP during Q4 2014.

ICTSI Oregon representatives recently made trips to Washington, D.C. to propose and build support among congressional lawmakers and trade associations for reasonable maritime labor law reform. According to Ganda, there is growing support among a diverse range of stakeholders to find a solution to West Coast labor issues and significant interest in the proposed legislation. ICTSI Oregon has worked closely with Senator Risch and his staff to finalize the PLUS Act for Senate consideration.

“We applaud Senator Risch’s leadership in proposing the PLUS Act and are hopeful that other West Coast representatives and senators will champion the measure,” said Ganda. “This legislation represents an important change to maritime labor law that will go a long way toward ensuring a more stable work environment at West Coast ports, one in which innocent parties are not subjected to severe economic damage by unfair union slowdown tactics.”

The PLUS Act has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Click HERE to learn more about the bill.
All Bill Information (Except Text) for S.1630 - A bill to amend the National Labor Relations Act and the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947 to deter labor slowdowns at ports of the United States, and for other purposes.
114th Congress (2015-2016) | Get alerts

ICTSI Oregon, Inc.
Elvis Ganda, CEO, 503-212-2531

Tags: Strike Ban
Categories: Labor News

Critics question pension cut rules

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Mon, 06/22/2015 - 07:13
Len BoselovicPittsburgh Post-GazetteJune 22, 2015View the original piece

Six months after Congress approved reducing benefits promised to workers covered by certain troubled pension plans, the IRS and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. have published proposed rules for how pension promises can be broken.

Tucked into the last-minute budget compromise signed by President Barack Obama in December, the pension legislation is of most interest to about 1.5 million workers and retirees covered by multiemployer pension plans that could run out of money in the next 15 or 20 years.

Click here to read more at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Issues: Pension and Benefits
Categories: Labor News, Unions

These Workers Have a New Demand: Stop Watching Us

Current News - Sun, 06/21/2015 - 07:48

These Workers Have a New Demand: Stop Watching Us
How workplace surveillance has become a menace to health and safety.

Jessica Bruder May 27, 2015 | This article appeared in the June 15, 2015 edition of The Nation.

(Credit: Allie Whitehead)

Four years ago, I was out jogging with an old friend when she told me a puzzling story: Her longtime UPS driver had just reappeared after more than a monthlong absence. He’d been hospitalized for stress, she told me.

Stress? How stressful could that job be? So I asked to meet him.

Over coffee, the deliveryman, whom I’ll call Bill (he asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation from the company), explained that United Parcel Service had been upgrading its systems for tracking employees. Now the truck he drove was full of sensors. They reported when he opened the bulkhead door. When he backed up. When his foot was on the brake. When he was idling. When he buckled his safety belt. A high-resolution stream of data, including all that information and his GPS coordinates, flowed back to the UPS offices. The system is called “telematics.”

With more than 15 years on the job, Bill already knew how to follow classic UPS protocols, with names that sounded like dogma from a productivity-worshipping cult: “The Five Seeing Habits,” “The Ten-Point Commentary,” “The 340 Methods.” Guidelines derived from time-and-motion studies told him the most efficient way to do everything: how to handle his ignition key, which shirt pocket to use for his pen (right-handed people should use the left pocket, and vice versa), how to pick a “walk path” from the truck, and how to occupy time while riding in an elevator.

But telematics ratcheted up that pressure. Now drivers were called to account for a litany of small sins. They were asked to justify bathroom breaks and any other deviations—“stealing time” in corporate-speak—that could chip away at their SPORH (pronounced “spoor”) count, or Stops Per On-Road Hour.

“I have no problem doing a heavy, hard job,” Bill told me. “But now, after you do the job, you have to look back every day and say, ‘Did I do this? Did I do that?’ They have a report that tells them everything that you did wrong. For instance, if you turned the truck on before you put on your seat belt, that’s wasting gas.”

For UPS, whose revenues topped $58 billion in 2014, tracking worker productivity goes straight to the bottom line. Time is money, and management knows exactly how much: “Just one minute per driver per day over the course of a year adds up to $14.5 million,” the company’s senior director of process management, Jack Levis, told NPR last year. He appeared on a boosterish episode of the Planet Money podcast titled “The Future of Work Looks Like a UPS Truck.” Levis and other UPS executives have a favorite quip: “We’ve moved from a trucking company that has technology to basically a technology company that just happens to have trucks.”

But UPS trucks aren’t driven by robots—at least not yet—and of the 10 current and former drivers I’ve interviewed, all felt like they were handling packages in the Panopticon. “Data is just a proxy for control,” said Sam Dwyer, 26, a former screenwriter and marketing-industry analyst who spent eight months as a driver last year.

A current driver, who also asked to remain anonymous for fear of getting fired, said: “It’s like you’re fighting for your job every day. They harass you: ‘Why did it take you 10 minutes here? Why did it take you this long there?’… They want you to hate your job and quit so they can hire somebody at half the pay.”

The metrics-based harassment of workers is common, said Tim Sylvester, the president of Teamsters Local 804, when I visited his Long Island City union hall in March. He told the tale of one UPS driver, Domenick DeDomenico, who spent 10 days in a coma after getting hit by a car while delivering packages. A year later, after surgery and extensive physical therapy, DeDomenico was back on the job. When the tracking data indicated that he’d dipped below his pre-accident delivery rate of 13.23 packages per hour, managers threatened to fire him, DeDomenico said at a union rally.

Some UPS supervisors post printouts of drivers’ data every day to keep up the pressure. “Guys get scared,” said Josh Pomeranz, Local 804’s in-house counsel. “They start cutting corners.” According to Pomeranz, knee and back surgeries are very common among UPS workers. One driver lodged a protest by posting a telematics-inspired parody of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” on YouTube. (Sample lyrics: “He sees you when you’re driving. He knows when you’re on break!”)

Job stress is a popular topic on BrownCafe, an independent chat board for UPS workers. In two separate forum threads, when some members referred to apparent driver suicides in Atlanta, Georgia, and Paris, Tennessee, others began talking about management pressures. In September, when a recently fired UPS deliveryman in Birmingham shot two supervisors to death before killing himself, forum members speculated about the role played by a pressure-driven corporate culture. “It was just a matter of time before somebody went ballistic,” wrote one. Another added: “We are people, damn it, not some stupid metric.”

* * *

How did we get here? A mere 48 years ago, on his weekly program The Twenty-First Century, Walter Cronkite proclaimed: “Technology is opening a new world of leisure time. One government report projects that by the year 2000, the United States will have a 30-hour workweek and monthlong vacations as the rule.” Machines, many people thought, would lift the yoke of labor from humanity’s shoulders. A Time magazine essay predicted that “by 2000, the machines will be producing so much that everyone in the U.S. will, in effect, be independently wealthy.”

The pundits had one thing right: Advances in technology did increase national productivity. In the three decades following World War II, productivity and hourly wages grew roughly in tandem, by 97 percent and 91 percent, respectively. Then they were decoupled: Workers produced steadily more and earned proportionally less. From 1973 to 2013, while output rose 74 percent, the average worker’s pay rose just 9 percent, according to a January report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

“All the productivity gains have been harvested and turned into corporate profits,” explained Michael Childers, the director of the School for Workers at the University of Wisconsin. CEOs now make 296 times as much as the typical worker, according to the EPI; a half-century ago, they made only 20 times as much. Likewise, after-tax corporate profits hit their highest level on record as a share of the GDP in 2013, even as workers’ salaries and wages hit their lowest level.

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UPS demonstrates perfectly how technology now governs the US workplace. Metrics enable “management by stress,” said Childers. Two years ago, he met workers who were processing insurance claims at a Pennsylvania call center, where managers monitored every conversation and keystroke. They used that data to discipline employees, he said, constantly urging more speed. “If you get a few calls where people speak slowly in a row, you know you’re going to hear about it next week,” Childers recounted. “Always in the back of your mind as a worker is, ‘Oh my God, I wish this person would talk faster.’” The workers’ anxiety and exhaustion were palpable: “You had 20-year employees quitting, people throwing up in the parking lot.”

In the winter of 2013, Reynalda Cruz, 42, took a job as a FedEx warehouse temp in Edison, New Jersey. She was issued a computerized package scanner and told to strap it to her right forearm. But the weight of the device became unbearable, she said. As she reached repeatedly for boxes that were above her chest level, stacking them on pallets and then wrapping them in plastic, her arm grew inflamed. Coworkers told her this was normal. They counseled her to take a Tylenol or Motrin. Meanwhile, her data-gathering wrist scanner had registered a troubling trend: Her pace was dropping. When supervisors confronted Cruz, she told them she was in constant pain. The same device that was tracking her speed was inhibiting it, too. They urged her to “pick it up,” she said.

“At the beginning, when they put it on my arm…I said, ‘Oh, wow!’ But after the hours went by, I saw this really wasn’t good for me at all,” she recalled, speaking in Spanish through an interpreter. “How is it human beings can end up working like this? They were measuring our time, our production, as if we were robots.” Today, Cruz is an organizer for New Labor, a nonprofit advocacy group representing immigrant workers in New Jersey.

Laura Graham was a seasonal worker last year in Coffeyville, Kansas, at one of the infamous Amazon warehouses. She was born in 1965, when the techno-utopian dream was ascendant, but the workplace she describes, like Cruz’s warehouse, is the inverse of those earlier predictions. Every time she scanned a piece of merchandise, another countdown began on her screen, indicating how many seconds she had to reach the next item, as if she’d graduated to the next level in a video game. Her progress toward hourly goals was also tracked. When an accidental trip down a wrong aisle left her more than five minutes behind, a supervisor arrived to scold her. Graham’s body rebelled against the demands of the device, which directed how she walked from 10 to 20 miles a day on concrete in the 915,000-square-foot complex for $11.25 an hour. “There’s nothing to describe the misery, physically,” she said. “I started getting these really sharp pains through my arches…it ended up being plantar fasciitis.” Putting new insoles in her shoes didn’t help. To cope, she took two ibuprofen tablets halfway through the graveyard shift, which ran from 5:30 pm to 3:30 am, and another two at the end. On days off, she tried to keep from using her feet, lying in bed except for visits to the bathroom or shower.

* * *

Amazon and UPS, two of the most successful companies in the United States, both use technology to drive their workers hard. But there’s a big difference: UPS has a union. Amazon does not. As a result, UPS drivers make a decent wage—$18.75 an hour to start, rising to $32 after four years on the job—and can negotiate for protections. In May 2011, Teamsters across the country began wearing stickers on which UPS stood for “Unfair Production Standards.” This was four months before Bill broke into a cold sweat on the job, couldn’t breathe, and was rushed to the hospital in the throes of his first panic attack. While the Teamsters’ contract with UPS has a clause stipulating that workers can’t be disciplined based on telematics data alone, a gaping loophole in that agreement—it’s invalid in cases of worker “dishonesty,” although the contract doesn’t specify what such cases may include—renders such protections toothless. Local 804 representatives said they’d hoped to see more robust language added in the last round of contract negotiations between UPS and the Teamsters, but it didn’t happen.

Meanwhile, the pressure to produce more and faster keeps intensifying. Some UPS employees and union reps told me about the tricks workers use to keep up. Drivers have been known to sit on top of already-fastened seat belts to save time. (Recently, they’ve been getting busted for that, however, since sensors can tell if a seat belt hasn’t been unbuckled at a delivery stop.) In one warehouse in Queens, they said, a safety shut-off mechanism had been disabled—someone taped a reflector against the electric eye tracking the conveyor belt—because it meant fewer false alarms stopping production.

And workers are not looking forward to the arrival of a new routing system for drivers—called On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation, or ORION—that UPS is rolling out across the country. The company claims it will cut mileage and save $300 million annually. Teamsters elsewhere in the country have called it “telematics on steroids.” They worry that it’s a new way to erode workers’ earning power by dumbing down—or “deskilling”—the job to make them expendable.

If workers are to prevent companies from turning their workplaces into Panopticons, and firing them based on increasingly inflexible metrics, they will have to organize around new types of demands. That means bargaining for very narrow language about what kind of data may be gathered—from e-mail to phone recordings and GPS movements—and setting clear boundaries on how employers can use such information. It also means setting times and places that are off-limits.

This will be a challenge, because unions themselves are under attack. In March, Wisconsin became the 25th “right-to-work” state, enacting anti-union legislation that critics have aptly nicknamed “right-to-work-for-less.” Legislators in Missouri and New Mexico may follow suit. In November, a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board required Amazon to post notices in its warehouses stating that employees are free to unionize. When I asked Laura Graham if she planned to work another holiday season there, she said yes. She’s applying to one of the company’s warehouses in Texas—a right-to-work state since 1993—and expects her experience as a seasonal worker to be pretty much the same as last time.

“A big part of it for me, and the reason I can go back, is psychological: I know I’m only going to be there for two months,” she said. “I’ll be miserable for two months, and then just call it a day.”

Tags: spyinghealth and safetytechupsAmazon
Categories: Labor News

India: International Labour Organisation echoes unions' reservation against labour law amendments

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 06/20/2015 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Economic Times
Categories: Labor News

UK: Tens of thousands in anti-austerity protests

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 06/20/2015 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Guardian
Categories: Labor News

6/22 SF Taxi Workers Alliance To Picket UBER on 8th And Market St. SF “The phony ‘partnership’ model Uber uses is an assault on workers’ rights,”

Current News - Sat, 06/20/2015 - 14:36

6/22 SF Taxi Workers Alliance To Picket UBER on 8th And Market St. SF “The phony ‘partnership’ model Uber uses is an assault on workers’ rights,”

6/22 SF Taxi Workers Alliance To Picket UBER

By Trevor Johnson

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Kim Waldron 415 264 2101 kimsftwa@igc.org

Cab Drivers Urge U.S. Mayors:

Don’t Let Uber Take You for a Ride

The San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance (SFTWA) will hold a series of protests against ride giant Uber at the National Conference of Mayors meeting in San Francisco. Uber is heavily involved in the conference, hosting a breakfast for mayors Sunday morning and a tour of its offices Monday afternoon.

SFTWA will talk to the press Saturday at 1 p.m. in front of conference headquarters, the San Francisco Hilton, to call attention to the harm Uber is causing in the U.S. and around the globe to workers, the environment and the disabled community.

The union will cap off its protests with a major rally at Uber headquarters, 1455 Market Street, on Monday from 2-5 p.m. Uber is one of three tech companies mayors will tour at that time.

The union will cap off its protests with a major rally at Uber headquarters, 1455 Market Street, on Monday from 2-5 p.m. Uber is one of three tech companies mayors will tour at that time.

“We will have a picket line at Uber headquarters, and cabs will be circling the block,” said taxi driver SFTWA Executive Board member Chakib Ayadi. "We strongly urge the mayors to respect the picket line and to boycott Sunday’s breakfast. “

Since Uber, Lyft and similar companies started operations, San Francisco has become the second most congested city in the country, according to tech products developer Tom Tom. Uber is being sued for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the California Labor Commissioner ruled this week that a driver for the company was an employee, not an independent contractor as the company claims.

“The phony ‘partnership’ model Uber uses is an assault on workers’ rights,” said Ruach Graffis, Taxi Driver Institute Director and SFTWA board member. “It substitutes precarious working arrangements for real jobs with real benefits and real worker protections.”

Uber’s global performance has been equally abysmal. It’s business model entails operating in violation of law in cities and countries on every continent. And it has committed a long series of ethical breaches and violations of customers’ privacy.

Despite its track record, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has embraced Uber and similar companies. Protesters will call attention to the mayor’s role in allowing Uber, Lyft and others to operate in San Francisco when they had no legal authority to do so, and to his refusal to bring them under local regulation.

“This is a company without conscience or scruple,” said Chakib Ayadi. “The list of illegal and unethical things they’ve done is staggering. Mayors should be aware of that, and keep their distance.”

Tags: UberPicket
Categories: Labor News

Joint Statement of Japanese and Korean Railway Workers against Privatization

Current News - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 20:01

Joint Statement of Japanese and Korean Railway Workers against Privatization

June 7, 2015
Korean Railroad Workers' Union (KRWU) Seoul Regional Division
National Railways Motive Power Union of Chiba (Doro-Chiba)

We, Japanese and Korean railway workers, have determined to issue a Joint Statement to declare our will for crushing the privatization, deregulation in the public sector and neoliberal labor policy, and to stand up for solidarity with workers of the world struggling against capitalist attack.

Neoliberal policy is now on the verge of collapse, being unable to control the contradictory developments which have been produced by its own desperate practice. The time has come for workers of the world to act together on the forefront of the struggle in the coming age with their united power.

Neoliberalism has brought about a huge number of casual workers who are deprived of the right to existence and to enjoy their future. Increasing disparity and poverty are prevailing and the whole structure of the society is collapsing. Also neoliberalism has set free brutal power that devastates all means of social life: public transportation, social insurance system, education and healthcare, etc. Callous greed has taken control of all the society. It has been exposed in Korea by the recent Ferry Sewol disaster which killed 304 high school students and other passengers, and in Japan by the Amagasaki railway accident in 2005, in which 107 lives were lost.

The deregulation of finance has triggered world-wide flood of speculative money flows, resulting in the repeated bubbles and bubble bursts, which produced destruction of jobs and wages accompanied by mass unemployment at each occurrence. Furthermore, enormous national financial funds have been poured into the money market to save the banks and monopoly corporations. Its inevitable outcome was fiscal collapse. Under the pretext of overcoming the crisis, further accelerated attempts of wholesale privatization and dismantling of social security system have been carried out with fresh increase of poverty, national oppression and escalation of war.

In the year 1987, neoliberalism swallowed the whole Japanese society by the thunderstorm of the Division and Privatization JNR(Japanese National Railways). And in Korea as well, during the last half of the 1990s this onslaught went on in a full-fledged way: fierce winds of privatization and Structural Adjustment Programs hit each section of society with terrible force, particularly on Korean National Railroad.

Even at this very moment, tearing voices are exclaiming, "We’ve had enough!". These sounds of anger are echoing throughout the world.

Starting with the establishment of the KCTU(Korean Confederation of Trade Unions) 20 years ago, the Korean labor movement has overcome many hardships, and is moving forward with immense power.

In 2015, ignited by the unmerciful attacks on workers in the name of structural reform of the labor market and forcible privatization, Korea is in the midst of a huge wave of general strike demanding the resignation of President Park Guen-hye. These developments have been triggered by the KRWU's 23-day strike in December 2013 against privatization. This struggle was a turning point in changing the whole situation just as the media reports: “It is quite amazing and exceptional that a single labor union's strike has made history by forming strong public opinion against privatization.”

Park Guen-hye administration, scared by this powerful struggle, attempted brutal oppression such as mass arrests of union leaders, unjust and unlawful dismissal of over 130 union members, ousting of 8,600 workers from employment job position, demand of several tens of billion Won of damages and provisional seizures of union assets. But our unwavering solidarity will be strengthened and we will continue to organize a powerful fight against the "Second Plan of Normalization" and the attempts of shifting to subsidiary companies and introducing of divisional organization (profit center approach) for railway privatization. If the Park Guen-hye government still continues to force upon us such neo-liberal attacks, we, railways workers will fight back with a powerful general strike that exceeds the preceding uprising of 2013.

Succeeding the first general strike on April 24, Korean Confederation of Trade Unions is now preparing for the second general strike being scheduled for the end of June or the beginning of July. It's slogans are: “A great general strike of workers and all working people to crush the anti-labor, anti-democratic and corrupt government! ”“Down with Park!” “Let's go on general strike!”

The division and privatization of JNR was the greatest attack to dismantle Japanese labor movement in the postwar period. All at once the employees of JNR were fired and then selectively “newly hired” by the privatized new companies or JRs. As a result 200,000 railway workers were thrown out of jobs.. This unprecedented onslaught on the railway unions was legalized by the National Railway Reform Act, which caused the reduction of the membership of the 240,000-strong Kokuro (National Railway Workers Union) into a mere 40,000. Two years after that, Sohyo (General Council of Trade Unions of Japan) was also driven into dissolution. Meanwhile, over 15 millions of workers were forced into irregular employment. Thus a way has been paved towards the amendment of the Constitution and the exercising of the right of collective self-defense.

Doro-Chiba, however, waged two waves of strikes against Division and Privatization of JNR and defended its unity. Since then Doro-Chiba has been shaking JR regime, carrying through over 30 years the struggle against the dismissal of the 1,047 national railway workers and the struggle against the outsourcing.

We are now confronted in Japan with the second round offensive of Division and Privatization by the JR Companies with ultimate outsourcing and union busting.

Meanwhile, Abe administration’s desperate drive toward the revision of the Constitution and war has been met with mounting anger of Japanese people. Okinawan people are starting to explode their anger. General strike is impending. In Osaka “Osaka-Metropolis Scheme” which aim at the wholesale privatization of municipality in the same form as JNR privatization was rejected through referendum. 

We hear the powerful voices of workers echoing throughout the world, the workers’ voices who are suffering under the same attack and advancing forward for the same hope. Now we are standing at the crossroads of history. It's time to stand up for us workers who have been forced a race to the bottom in the endless competition and being insulted, to re-establish pride, unity and solidarity.

We have decided to send out this appeal, with the pride of railway workers who have been committing own lives to the struggle and standing resolutely at the forefront of the struggle, hoping to strengthen the cross-border and industry-wide unity of the workers to defeat monstrous neo-liberalism,. Only the united struggle of workers can make the history and change the society. Let's unify the power of workers around the world. Let's make our way together.

Tags: Doro-ChibaKorean Railway Workers Union
Categories: Labor News

Charleston Local 1422 Member's Son And Aunt Among Nie Victims Of Church Shooting, ILA Leaders Respond

Current News - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 19:51

Charleston Local 1422 Member's Son And Aunt Among Nie Victims Of Church Shooting, ILA Leaders Respond

Posted at 09:00h in Home, ILA News, News by steve
ILA Member’s Son and Aunt Among Nine Victims of Charleston, South Carolina Church Shooting; ILA Leaders Respond To Senseless Tragedy

NORTH BERGEN, NJ – Harold J. Daggett, International President; Clyde Fitzgerald, President, South Atlantic and Gulf Coast District and Dennis A. Daggett, President, Atlantic Coast District, International Longshoremen’s Association issued the following statement on the murder of nine parishioner’s at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

“The ILA and its 45,000 members offer their collective prayers to the victims and families of the nine parishioners murdered at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The victims included relatives of an ILA member, Tyrone Saunders, who lost his youngest son and his aunt in this senseless tragedy. Once again, the beautiful port city of Charleston must come to grips with an unspeakable violent act, fueled by hatred and bigotry, resulting in the loss of nine innocent lives. We collectively embrace our Brother Tyrone and offer the support and prayers of the ILA, including its South Atlantic and Gulf Coast District and Atlantic Coast District. We hope that the person or persons responsible for this crime are brought to justice and that the City of Charleston, South Carolina and our nation may mourn the loss and begin the process of healing. Let us honor the deaths of these nine parishioners by recommitting ourselves to eliminating all forms of hatred, and bigotry in our nation.”

Tags: ILATerrorism
Categories: Labor News

Meet the rare American mayor who hates Uber “It’s a step toward breaking the exploitation and serfdom of thousands of workers.” “This company is predatory in every sense of the word,”

Current News - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 17:46

Meet the rare American mayor who hates Uber “It’s a step toward breaking the exploitation and serfdom of thousands of workers.” “This company is predatory in every sense of the word,”
Meet the rare American mayor who hates Uber
By Joe Garofoli
June 19, 2015 Updated: June 19, 2015 5:21pm

Photo: Eric Risberg, Associated PressUber is operating in Madison, Wis., despite the best efforts of the city’s mayor, a former cabdriver, who wants stricter regulations on ride services.
Paul Soglin is the liberal mayor of Madison, Wis., one of few cities with a political sensibility to the left of San Francisco and an unemployment rate that’s just as low.

But unlike Mayor Ed Lee, who has emerged as a cheerleader for the tech industry, Soglin has fought to make Madison “the last city in America where Uber is allowed.”

Soglin, who is one of 280 mayors in town for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, told a Madison audience this year that Uber and Lyft’s business model is “built on exploitation” and treats drivers with a “16th century version of serfdom.”

So no, he has no intention of joining Lee on a tour of Uber’s headquarters Monday.

Soglin may be an outlier among the legions of public officials who swoon in the presence of Uber, which is valued at $50 billion and operates in hundreds of U.S. cities and 57 countries. But his opinion is in line with a ruling made public this week by the California Labor Commission, which said that an Uber driver is an employee, not an independent contractor.

Though it won’t set a legal precedent, that decision could portend a challenge to Uber’s business model and other companies in what is often called the sharing economy.

‘Spectacular’ ruling

And Soglin loved it.

“It was spectacular,” said Soglin, a former cabdriver who has been mayor of Madison for 18 years spread over four decades. “It’s a step toward breaking the exploitation and serfdom of thousands of workers.”

“This company is predatory in every sense of the word,” he said.

This weekend, he will ask his fellow mayors to support a nonbinding resolution that calls on Uber, Lyft and their competitors “to cease and halt all operations in municipalities until such time that they are properly regulated and licensed pursuant to law.”

So far, Soglin is the only sponsor. The last time he proposed this, debate was limited to a few minutes and it failed. It’s expected to fail again. As did his efforts to keep the ride services out of Madison (population 243,344). Uber began operating there in March 2014.

In May, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a likely Republican presidential candidate, signed a law that bans local ordinances — like the one in Madison — governing ride service companies. It requires companies to buy a state license, maintain liability insurance and perform background checks.

“Madison is a great example of a city where Uber just makes sense,” said Uber spokeswoman Jennifer Mullin. “Wisconsin recently joined the nearly 50 jurisdictions that have adopted regulations that embrace ridesharing, and we are excited about being part of the community for years to come.”

Lone wolf

On his efforts to keep Uber out of town, Soglin admits defeat: “Well, that failed.”

But the 70-year-old mayor, who was re-elected in April with 72 percent of the vote, isn’t deterred by being a lone wolf on an issue. He’s a guy who began protesting the Vietnam War in 1963 and visited Cuba three times when it wasn’t kosher, enjoying hours of conversation with Fidel Castro.

He’s concerned about an April incident in Madison in which a woman claimed an Uber driver touched her inappropriately during a ride. What troubled him is that when police contacted Uber about getting information about the driver, the company said it would need to be served a subpoena. Authorities did so, and Uber turned over the information.

But before Uber received a subpoena, Soglin had already called a press conference to rip it for “stonewalling.” Soon the suspected driver had fled the country, Soglin said.

“The fact is that is an industry that requires a certain amount of trust,” Soglin said. “The person in the back seat is very vulnerable. The standard practices of background checks and having immediate access to information” is vital.

Soglin likes Lee, his San Francisco counterpart, saying they “are 100 percent aligned on 95 percent of the issues facing our cities, like immigration reform, net neutrality and high-speed Internet and other things. But there is a difference between us on the role of these new tech companies in our economy and what they’re doing to our cities.”

Keeping the cabs

“I see them destroying regular taxicab service needed by everyday people. Not people like me, who jets into an airport and gets a cab in front of a hotel. I’m talking about people who have no other way to get to a health clinic on Tuesday. Or seniors who have to get to the grocery store and can’t carry their bags,” he said.

His goal is to try to keep cab companies alive long enough that they can develop better technology that will allow them to compete with their app-based rivals.

And if he succeeds, Soglin says, “Talk to me in a year, and I’ll tell you want I’m going to do about Amazon and eBay.”

Joe Garofoli is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: jgarofoli@sfchronicle.com; Twitter: @joegarofoli

Tags: Uberslavery
Categories: Labor News

Chile: Transit workers in Chile’s capital join education workers on strike

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: FSRN
Categories: Labor News

Ukraine: ITUC Protests Security Service Harrassement of Unions

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

Who's Really to Blame for Train Wrecks?

IWW - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 14:33

By Ron Kaminkow - Labor Notes, June 16, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The news media have been full of speculation about what caused an Amtrak train to derail east of Philadelphia on May 12, killing at least eight people and injuring hundreds.

Train #188, operated by lone engineer Brandon Bostian, entered a curve with a speed limit of 50 miles per hour, at over 100.

Was this excessive speed the result of fatigue, inattentiveness, a projectile that hit the train (and possibly the engineer), or some other factor? The investigation may eventually pinpoint the cause—or we may never know.

But we do know this: had there been a second crew member in the cab, it’s very likely that person would have taken action to prevent the tragedy when, for whatever reason, the engineer at the controls could not.

And blaming a worker just distracts the public from eliminating the real hazards. There exists simple, affordable technology that Amtrak could and should have implemented years ago—which could have prevented this terrible wreck.

read more

Categories: Unions

Groups start working to pass federal law intended to stave off private pension cuts

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 07:48
Jim MackinnonAkron Beacon JournalJune 19, 2015View the original piece

Mike Walden used a baseball metaphor in describing the introduction Thursday of federal legislation that would, if passed, eliminate pension cut provisions that are now law and could impact more than a million people in upcoming years.

“This is just spring training for a rally in the future,” said Walden, a retired Teamster truck driver from Cuyahoga Falls and head of a Northeast Ohio organization dedicated to repealing major parts, if not all, of the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014. The law allows financially troubled multiemployer pension plans to cut benefits to current retirees, primarily union.

Click here to read more at the Akron Beacon Journal.

Issues: Pension and Benefits
Categories: Labor News, Unions

A California Ruling Just Challenged Uber's Entire Business Model

Current News - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 22:57

A California Ruling Just Challenged Uber's Entire Business Model
by Eric NewcomerJames Nash
June 17, 2015 — 7:58 AM PDTUpdated on June 17, 2015 — 3:07 PM PDT

(Bloomberg) -- California’s labor commissioner said an Uber driver who connects with customers through the company’s app must be considered an employee, a decision that strikes at the heart of its business model. Bloomberg's Emily Chang reports on "Bloomberg West." (Source: Bloomberg)
California’s labor commissioner said an Uber Technologies Inc. driver who connects with customers through the company’s app must be considered an employee, a decision that strikes at the heart of its business model.
San Francisco-based Uber, like other “sharing economy” startups, has built a business around a flexible car fleet piloted by people it contends are independent contractors. If Uber’s drivers were treated as employees, the company would be required to guarantee them a minimum wage, compensate them for mileage and pay into social security.
“We see this as a problem that’s growing larger with each year, with employees lacking security and even basic rights when they are treated as independent contractors,” said Steve Smith, spokesman for the California Labor Federation, which has backed tougher regulations on ridesharing companies.
Uber said in court papers it would appeal the decision. The resolution of the question in an economy that is the world’s seventh-largest may help define the future of Internet-enabled companies that depend on casual labor to provide car rides, shelter and even helicopter trips.
The company has scrapped with regulators from Houston to Berlin on issues from whether Uber is required to follow existing taxi laws to how it handles rider data and even whether its cars can pick riders up at airports.
Moving Californians
Uber has 22,000 drivers in San Francisco alone, 26,000 in New York and 15,000 in London, Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick said in a speech to employees June 3 marking the fifth anniversary of the company.
Uber and its competitor Lyft Inc. both face federal lawsuits questioning whether those workers have legal protections of employees. While courts and regulatory agencies ponder, Uber has been expanding into hundreds of cities and raising money at a $50 billion valuation, meeting resistance from regulators and cabbies as it goes.
It’s not just startups that test the boundaries: FedEx Ground Package System Inc agreed to pay out a $228 million settlement to 2,300 California drivers who said they were misclassified as independent contractors, according to a June 12 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Uber spokeswoman Kristin Carvell said in a prepared statement that the California decision applied to a single driver and contradicted previous rulings.
“The number one reason drivers choose to use Uber is because they have complete flexibility and control,” she said. “The majority of them can and do choose to earn their living from multiple sources.”
Five other states have concluded that drivers were independent contractors, Carvell said. However, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity ruled in May that a former Uber driver was an employee of the company.
Money Fight
The ruling by the agency headed by Commissioner Julie Su, an appointee of Governor Jerry Brown, was filed in San Francisco state court Tuesday. It stemmed from a wage and reimbursement dispute.
“The defendants hold themselves out as nothing more than a neutral technological platform, designed simply to enable drivers and passengers to transact the business of transportation,” the commission said in the decision, filed alongside Uber’s appeal notice. “The reality, however, is that defendants are involved in every aspect of the operation.”
The commission said the company dictates such things as how old a driver’s car can be and who is qualified to offer services through the Uber platform.
For more, read this QuickTake: The Sharing Economy
The Labor Commission ruling applies to a single driver only “for the moment,” said David Rosenfeld, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley.
Uber is gambling with an appeal because a loss may mean the decision will apply to all its drivers in California, the professor said.
“That’s the big risk they have,” Rosenfeld said.
With urging from the taxi industry and labor unions, California lawmakers have been working to regulate the companies. Last year, lawmakers required drivers to carry at least $1 million in insurance for personal injury and property damage. The law, which was opposed by Uber, takes effect July 1.
The state court filing is Uber Technologies Inc. v. Berwick, 15-546378, Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco. The federal cases are Cotter v. Lyft Inc., 13-cv-04065, and O’Connor v. Uber Technologies Inc., 13-cv-03826, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

Tags: UberTaxi drivers
Categories: Labor News

Canada: Labour Law Violations Prolonging 21-Month Strike: Steelworkers

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: USW
Categories: Labor News

Teamster Pension Movement Backs “Keep our Pension Promises Act”

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 10:38

June 18, 2015: Some 150 retired and active Teamsters stood proud at the Capitol as the Keep our Pension Promises Act was introduced in the US House and Senate. Frank Bryant, a UPS retiree from North Carolina, addressed the crowd, following remarks by Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont).

The bill is a product of efforts by the Teamster pension movement and our allies like the Pension Rights Center, that have been working tirelessly for the past year to head off pension cuts in the Central States Fund and a number of smaller Teamster funds in the northeast.

The proposed law would repeal the pension cut law passed as a sneaky amendment to the budget bill last December, and would provide a “legacy fund” within the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) to help participants in pension funds where companies have left the pension system because of bankruptcy, deregulation, or moving offshore.

The PBGC is supposed to protect workers’ earned pensions, but is woefully inadequate and underfunded. The proposed law would close certain corporate tax loopholes to ensure funding.

“The fight for this bill is just starting,” said Butch Lewis who attended today and was also part of a delegation that visited the offices of Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman. “We will keep building the pension movement and we will be back in DC in force to make sure this legislation comes to a vote.”

Retirees and Teamsters came to Washington from a number of states, many bringing signs, banners and T-Shirts from their committees.  The Pension Rights Center provided full support and expertise, and will continue to do so. 

Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) has supported and provided organizational back up for this movement, and will continue to do so until victory is won, and pensions are protected.

You can be informed on the pension movement and you can help make it happen by Joining TDU.

The International Union, which helped fund the lobbying group which wrote the pension-cut law, issued a statement today supporting the Keep our Pension Promises Act. The trustees of the Central States Pension Fund – Teamster officials and management alike – supported the pension-cut bill and continues on its website to attack the movement to protect pensions. 

Issues: Pension and Benefits
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Teamster Retirees in Washington to support the Keep Our Pension Promises Act

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 07:38

June 18, 2015: Teamster retirees from across the Midwest and South at the US Senate this morning to support the Keep Our Pension Promises Act.

Issues: Pension and Benefits
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Ohio congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, Bernie Sanders offer new legislation to repeal private pension cut provisions

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 07:05
Jim Mackinnon Akron Beacon JournalJune 18, 2015View the original piece

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, are introducing legislation Thursday to repeal pension cut provisions in the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014.

The act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in December, would allow significant pension payment cuts to hundreds of thousands of retirees — primarily retired union members — covered by troubled and severely underfunded multiemployer plans.

Click here to read more at the Akron Beacon Journal.

Issues: Pension and Benefits
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Bangladesh: Global unions denounce comments made by Bangladesh Finance Minister

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 06/17/2015 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL Global Union
Categories: Labor News


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