Feed aggregator

SF's Pier 70 shipyard closes after 150 years

Current News - 7 hours 56 min ago

SF's Pier 70 shipyard closes after 150 years
http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/SF-Pier-70-shipyard-closes-af...

By J.K. DineenMay 28, 2017 Updated: May 28, 2017 8:48pm
hoto: Paul Chinn, The ChronicleCarlisa Coleman worked for 18 years before she was laid off at the former BAE Systems shipyard at Pier 70 in San Francisco.

Some came for their boots and hard hats. Others for their final paycheck. They stood outside the shipyard gates at Pier 70 with trash bags full of work clothes and talked about stuff people usually talk about when the boss lays everyone off.

Medical insurance. Pensions. Job prospects. Who was responsible for messing up their lives.

At 8 o’clock, a horn blasted in the yard. “Break time!” joked Eric Lee, who spent 12 good years at the shipyard. Of course, there was nobody left to take a break.

After 150 years of continuous operation, the shipyard at Pier 70 shut down Friday, the victim of a legal squabble between a multinational corporation and a much smaller company. The big boy no longer wanted to operate the business while the little guy thought better of taking it over when it became apparent the repair facility itself was in need of millions of dollars of repairs.

Stuck in the middle was the Port of San Francisco, which owns the dry docks, and the men and women for whom the shipyard — and the majestic vessels they repaired — was both a living and a way of life.

<920x1240.jpg>Photo: Paul Chinn, The ChronicleJames White is among the last of the employees laid off from their jobs at the former BAE Systems shipyard to pick up their belongings at Pier 70.
For a dozen years, BAE Systems, which has a $27 billion market cap, operated the repair facility, which consists of two dry docks. One, Dry Dock No. 2, is a monumental steel cradle capable of lifting sparkling white 900-foot cruise ships weighing 60,000 tons. The other, named Eureka, is smaller: at 528 feet long, it can hoist ships weighing 14,500 tons.

For most of that time, BAE kept the bigger of the two dry docks busy — it was the largest working dry dock on the West Coast and the only one capable of hoisting the late-model, jumbo cruise ships out of the water. But then a bigger dry dock, with larger cranes, opened near Portland, Ore., and the cruise ships migrated north.

Meanwhile, BAE decided San Francisco didn’t fit into its ship repair plan, which consists mostly of multibillion-dollar contracts with the U.S. Navy at facilities adjacent to Navy yards in the southern United States, Hawaii and Southern California. It sold the Pier 70 business to Puglia Engineering, which is based in Washington state. Puglia paid just $1 for the business but assumed $38 million in pension liabilities.

When Puglia took over, there had consistently been 250 employees at the shipyard, a number that went up when things were busy and down during slow periods. In February, six weeks after assuming control of the yard, Puglia filed notice of imminent closure. In a deal with the port, it agreed to keep it open for 90 days but laid off many workers in February and more in March. On Friday, it was goodbye to the bare-bones crew — fewer than a dozen — that had stayed on to wind things down. But others who had been previously pink-slipped showed up to witness the sad conclusion.

<920x920.jpg>
Photo: Paul Chinn / Paul Chinn / The Chronicle
IMAGE 1 OF 8James White carries a bag of his possessions toward co-workers Barry Thomas (left) and Eric Lee after the last of the laid-off employees made a final visit to the shipyard at Pier 70.
“It’s painful, and it’s frustrating,” said Gerry Roybal, maritime marketing manager for the port. “I’ve developed these relationships with these people. I worry about their future. These people were really harmed by what happened. The port was really harmed by what happened.”

Shipyard workers say Puglia never really showed up at Pier 70. Representatives from company headquarters appeared only a handful of times after taking over the lease. The signs on the property still say BAE. After the U.S. Navy ship Carl Brashear, which was in dry dock when BAE was still in charge, the only business that came in was a minor barge job.

“We don’t know what a person from Puglia looks like,” said Carlisa Coleman, who worked as a painter and sandblaster for 18 years. “We never even met one.”

Instead of putting the shipyard employees to work, Puglia put a team of lawyers to work, suing BAE and alleging in court that it had been misled into thinking the two dry docks were “well-maintained and could be put to immediate use.”

Instead, Puglia said, it discovered the smaller of the two dry docks had “deteriorated to an extent that it would cost $9 million” to make it operational. In addition, the lawsuit says an additional $12 million in dredging is needed.

In a cross complaint, BAE called Puglia a “sophisticated buyer” that spent more than a year conducting its own “due diligence of the business and its assets.” Puglia would not comment.

<920x1240.jpg>Photo: Paul Chinn, The ChronicleModern glass towers rise in stark contrast behind the old Eureka dry dock at the former BAE Systems shipyard at Pier 70 in San Francisco.
Workers say they blame both companies.

“We got caught up in a bad business deal,” Coleman said. “We got played by people with money and power. How do you buy a company on Jan. 2 and before the end of May you close it? Who does that? If Puglia didn’t have the money to run the shipyard, they should have left us alone.”

Eric Lee, a San Francisco native who lives in Ingleside Heights, said being a maritime worker is his life. As a high school graduate, he has been able to make a middle-class living — upward of $70,000 and $80,000 a year. He is a homeowner.

“We’re human beings. We’re workers. We’re residents of San Francisco. I was depending on my pension. I was depending on retiring as a maritime worker in San Francisco,” Lee said.

Workers said they will miss the ships as much as the shipyard. On Friday, Lee was wearing a hat with the Carl Brashear insignia on it — one of his favorite vessels along with the Amelia Earhart and the Jeremiah O’Brien.

James White, who grew up in the Sunset District’s Oceanside neighborhood, said that he was in state prison in 2010 when he saw a program about the dry dock on the National Geographic Channel show “World’s Toughest Fixes.” It was about a cruise ship, the Sea Princess. Despite being a city native, he didn’t realize there were still blue-collar jobs on the waterfront. When he was released, he made getting a shipyard job his top priority.

“This yard changed my life,” he said. “I went from sitting in a box to being able to walk around with the captain of a ship and actually know exactly what I was talking about. I understand the language of the shipping industry.”

RELATED

Looks like ship repair work is coming to an end at SF’s Pier 70The quest for design utopia at SF’s Pier 70Hundreds of SF shipyard jobs saved — for now
Coleman said the workers are in a tough spot, going from steady work to no work in a short period of time.

“I don’t have a Plan B, a lot of us don’t have a Plan B,” she said. “We don’t know how we are going to pay our bills, feed or families or get medical insurance.”

But port Director Elaine Forbes said there is some hope for the workers. She said several shipyard operators are interested in taking over the yard. The port hopes to have a new request for proposal issued before the end of July.

“It’s a sad situation, but I’m hoping it’s only temporarily sad,” Forbes said. “We are getting calls from operators who think there is a viable market for ship repair in San Francisco.”

J.K. Dineen is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: jdineen@sfchronicle.com Twitter:

Tags: San Francisco Shipyard workers
Categories: Labor News

East Timor: Call on Timor Leste’s PM to drop criminal defamation charges against journalists

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 05/28/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IFJ Asia-Pacific
Categories: Labor News

Hanging Noose discovery at Port of Oakland prompts ILWU 10 longshoremen walk-out

Current News - Sun, 05/28/2017 - 12:53

Hanging Noose discovery at Port of Oakland prompts ILWU Local 10 longshoremen walk-out
http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/05/25/noose-discovery-prompts-longshore...

Trucks are lined up along the length of Middle Harbor Road due to a work stoppage at the SSA terminal at the Port of Oakland in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, May 25, 2017. (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)
Trucks are lined up along the length of Middle Harbor Road due to a work stoppage at the SSA terminal at the Port of Oakland in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, May 25, 2017. (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)
By HARRY HARRIS | hharris@bayareanewsgroup.com and MALAIKA FRALEY | mfraley@bayareanewsgroup.com | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: May 25, 2017 at 10:27 am | UPDATED: May 26, 2017 at 7:16 pm
<56909940.jpg>

Autoplay: On | Off

OAKLAND — Operations at one of the Port of Oakland’s largest terminals were suspended for several hours Thursday when longshoremen walked off the job in response to nooses found on the property in recent weeks.

They returned to work Thursday afternoon after negotiations and normal operations resumed, officials said.
The longshoremen at the Oakland International Container Terminal left about 9 a.m., an hour after they had started for the day, under the order of union officials, officials said.

By late morning, about 100 union longshoremen at the terminal, 1717 Middle Harbor Road, were on standby waiting to hear if they would return to work. Container trucks were backed up all around the port and on Interstate 880.

Officials with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union were working to obtain surveillance tape that could reveal who is responsible for the nooses. Arbitration on whether the union members will get paid for their time during the walkout was under way.

Trucks were lined up along the length of Middle Harbor Road due to a work stoppage at the SSA terminal at the Port of Oakland in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, May 25, 2017. (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)
An unspecified number of nooses have been discovered at the terminal in recent weeks, including one found Thursday morning, union officials said. The nooses have been left on a fence, the ground, and on trucks.

Derrick Muhammad, the union’s secretary-treasurer, said a noose had also been found about 10 days ago. In November, someone spray painted a racial slur against African Americans on a piece of port equipment, he said.

“We believe it’s a bonafide health and safety issue because of the history behind the noose and what it means for black people in America,” Muhammad said. “This is a dangerous occupation already. This adds something that totally makes people feel uneasy, makes people feel unsafe and it’s distracting. We need our people to be as focused as possible.”

Robert McEllrath, International President, International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said in an e-mailed statement that “the ILWU is a progressive and diverse union, and we reject in the strongest possible terms racism in all its forms. This matter is being vigorously investigated.

“The display of a hangmen’s noose for the second time in two weeks at the work site is inexcusable and expressly prohibited conduct under the terms of the ILWU-PMA collective bargaining agreement. The Union is committed to securing a non-discriminatory work environment for all individuals working at the ports.”

The terminal, SSA Marine, had no statement Thursday morning.

Mike Zampa, Communications Director for the Port of Oakland spokesman confirmed operations had resumed.

He said the port was told a “symbol associated with racial bigotry was discovered on the terminal property. The Port of Oakland does not tolerate bigotry or discrimination of any kind. That is explicit in our policies and in our day-to-day operations.

Zanka said the port has “been in close contact with the terminal operator. They are investigating the incident and taking steps to prevent a reoccurrence. They’ll apprise us of those next steps.”

Staff writer David DeBolt contributed to this report.

Tags: ILWU Local 10hanging noosesracismworkplace racism
Categories: Labor News

Hanging Noose discovery at Port of Oakland prompts ILWU 10 longshoremen walk-out

Current News - Sun, 05/28/2017 - 12:53

Hanging Noose discovery at Port of Oakland prompts ILWU longshoremen walk-out
http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/05/25/noose-discovery-prompts-longshore...

Trucks are lined up along the length of Middle Harbor Road due to a work stoppage at the SSA terminal at the Port of Oakland in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, May 25, 2017. (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)
Trucks are lined up along the length of Middle Harbor Road due to a work stoppage at the SSA terminal at the Port of Oakland in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, May 25, 2017. (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)
By HARRY HARRIS | hharris@bayareanewsgroup.com and MALAIKA FRALEY | mfraley@bayareanewsgroup.com | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: May 25, 2017 at 10:27 am | UPDATED: May 26, 2017 at 7:16 pm
<56909940.jpg>

Autoplay: On | Off

OAKLAND — Operations at one of the Port of Oakland’s largest terminals were suspended for several hours Thursday when longshoremen walked off the job in response to nooses found on the property in recent weeks.

They returned to work Thursday afternoon after negotiations and normal operations resumed, officials said.
The longshoremen at the Oakland International Container Terminal left about 9 a.m., an hour after they had started for the day, under the order of union officials, officials said.

By late morning, about 100 union longshoremen at the terminal, 1717 Middle Harbor Road, were on standby waiting to hear if they would return to work. Container trucks were backed up all around the port and on Interstate 880.

Officials with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union were working to obtain surveillance tape that could reveal who is responsible for the nooses. Arbitration on whether the union members will get paid for their time during the walkout was under way.

Trucks were lined up along the length of Middle Harbor Road due to a work stoppage at the SSA terminal at the Port of Oakland in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, May 25, 2017. (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)
An unspecified number of nooses have been discovered at the terminal in recent weeks, including one found Thursday morning, union officials said. The nooses have been left on a fence, the ground, and on trucks.

Derrick Muhammad, the union’s secretary-treasurer, said a noose had also been found about 10 days ago. In November, someone spray painted a racial slur against African Americans on a piece of port equipment, he said.

“We believe it’s a bonafide health and safety issue because of the history behind the noose and what it means for black people in America,” Muhammad said. “This is a dangerous occupation already. This adds something that totally makes people feel uneasy, makes people feel unsafe and it’s distracting. We need our people to be as focused as possible.”

Robert McEllrath, International President, International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said in an e-mailed statement that “the ILWU is a progressive and diverse union, and we reject in the strongest possible terms racism in all its forms. This matter is being vigorously investigated.

“The display of a hangmen’s noose for the second time in two weeks at the work site is inexcusable and expressly prohibited conduct under the terms of the ILWU-PMA collective bargaining agreement. The Union is committed to securing a non-discriminatory work environment for all individuals working at the ports.”

The terminal, SSA Marine, had no statement Thursday morning.

Mike Zampa, Communications Director for the Port of Oakland spokesman confirmed operations had resumed.

He said the port was told a “symbol associated with racial bigotry was discovered on the terminal property. The Port of Oakland does not tolerate bigotry or discrimination of any kind. That is explicit in our policies and in our day-to-day operations.

Zanka said the port has “been in close contact with the terminal operator. They are investigating the incident and taking steps to prevent a reoccurrence. They’ll apprise us of those next steps.”

Staff writer David DeBolt contributed to this report.

Tags: ILWU Local 10hanging noosesracismworkplace racism
Categories: Labor News

IBT Teamsters Rail Conference Union gives CN Rail 72-hour strike notice

Current News - Sun, 05/28/2017 - 10:15

IBT Teamsters Rail Conference Union gives CN Rail 72-hour strike notice
IBT Union gives CN Rail 72-hour strike notice
http://ht.ly/3Zp930c6wD3
Teamsters says move comes after company gave notice it was changing terms of collective agreement
By Stephanie Taylor, CBC News Posted: May 27, 2017 5:01 PM CT Last Updated: May 27, 2017 5:01 PM CT

Teamsters Rail Conference has announced that members provided the bargaining committee with 98 per cent strike vote. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)
The union representing rail workers in Canada has given a 72 hour strike notice to CN Rail, which means conductors in Saskatchewan could be off the job starting Tuesday.

On Friday, Teamsters Rail Conference, which represents CN rail conductors, said union members handed the bargaining committee a 98 per cent strike mandate.

The next day the union issued an update, saying the company gave notice it was changing the terms and conditions of their collective agreement.

The union says the changes would include a two per cent wage increase and give the company the power to implement material changes, such as terminal closures, mandatory relocations and home terminal abolishment, with "little to no ability for the union to negotiate any protections for the members."

"Given the blatant provocation by the company, and potential irreparable harm that may be caused by the company's changes, the union is left with no choice but to serve the company with 72 hours notice," the notice to the company reads.

Job action is set to begin May 30 at 4 a.m. Members have been without a contract since July 2016.

Tags: CN Railrailway workersCanadian railway workers
Categories: Labor News

The Cost Of Deregulation Pushed By Democrats and Republicans Airline Corporate Bosses and Owners Control Congress Which Allows This Nightmare

Current News - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 17:07

The Cost Of Deregulation Pushed By Democrats and Republicans
Airline Corporate Bosses and Owners Control Congress Which Allows This Nightmare

Take It From Me, a Delta Employee: Passengers and Workers Are in This Fight Together
Overbooked planes, cramped cabins, and poor working conditions all have a common cause: deregulation and the relentless pursuit of profit.

https://www.thenation.com/article/take-delta-employee-passengers-workers...

By a Delta Air Lines Employee

Recent incidents of violence and disruption within the airline industry have called into question the policies that airlines utilize to transport people through the sky. Airlines charge excessive baggage fees, cram passengers into narrow seats, and consistently overbook aircraft, causing chaos when gate agents fail to generate enough offers from passengers to voluntarily take a later flight.

As a current Delta Air Lines employee, I feel it’s time to set the record straight about why these incidents of violence, distress, and anxiety have become increasingly prevalent in the last 25 years. I have no choice but to write this anonymously given Delta’s history of unfairly terminating its employees who speak out about their working conditions. I don’t want to become the next victim.
Don't blame the workers, but the incessant drive for profits coming from the very top of airline corporations.
People across the country have developed countless theories for who is at fault in these situations. Some have blamed airline employees for being too quick to call the police, who often unnecessarily escalate a situation to physical confrontation. Others blame passengers for these situations, claiming that because airlines possess the legal authority to demand passenger compliance, they also have the right to violently remove passengers, even those who do not put anyone’s life in danger.

The problem with both of these theories is that they place the blame on people without power: flight attendants, gate agents, and the passengers they transport. Instead of blaming those at the bottom, passengers need to recognize that these situations are the result of an incessant drive for airline profits coming from the very top of these corporations. That drive makes conditions for both airline workers and passengers worse.

For instance, take the fact that the biggest economy seats today are smaller than the smallest economy seats of the 1990s. The drive to make room for more seats has not only affected passenger comfort; it has also meant that galley-ways for flight attendants have shrunk significantly. Flight attendants at Delta are forced to work in incredibly small spaces, resulting in greater risk of injury for workers who sometimes spend up to 15 hours per day in these cramped conditions.

Additionally, load factors (the percentage of passengers on board compared to the total number of seats) have increased dramatically. In 1995, the average load factor was 67 percent. By 2016, that number had jumped to 83.4 percent, and it is continuing to rise as profitability compels airlines to overbook flights, causing passengers excessive stress and straining flight attendants.

Gate agents have also been strapped with increasing work-loads. Gate agents are given about an hour per domestic flight to make announcements, handle passenger questions, ticketing issues, re-booking, gate-check baggage, manage boarding, print flight departure paperwork, and close the aircraft door for an on-time departure. When flights are overbooked (sometimes by more than 25 seats), gate agents are forced to seek volunteers to take a later flight, in addition to the tasks they are already responsible for completing. Overbooked aircrafts create a toxic environment for passengers who fear their seats could be taken, as well as gate agents who are subject to disciplinary action if their flight doesn’t leave on time.

Increased load factors have also resulted in more bags for baggage handlers per plane, and the increase in baggage fees has resulted in tremendous profits for the airlines. In 2016, Delta made $866 million dollars from baggage fees alone. Still, Delta often staffs a team of only three ramp agents to handle domestic departures: the minimum standard set by the Federal Aviation Administration. Most of these profits go straight into the pockets of investors, rather than to ramp employees who do the work.

Instead of indicting each other, employees and passengers should focus on solidarity. Our interests are the same.
Rather than blaming these stressful situations on passengers, or airline employees forced to increase productivity and work under unsafe conditions, we must place the blame squarely on those at the top of the industry. The CEOs, boards of directors, and major shareholders of Delta Air Lines benefit from both their workers’ and passengers’ being forced to do more with less. Tighter physical space, lower wages, and fewer benefits mean higher profit margins for Delta, which is already the most profitable company in the US airline industry.

Instead of indicting each other (employees and passengers), we should focus on fostering solidarity. Many of our interests are the same.

Most obviously, a passenger’s flying conditions are also an airline employee’s working conditions. The more room there is for passengers, the easier it is for flight attendants to move freely (without injury) throughout the cabin. The less airlines overbook flights, the less stress gate agents will experience in getting a flight out on time, and the less likely passengers will be involuntarily removed from an aircraft. The more ramp agents assigned to each departure, the less likely that passengers lose their bags.

The declining emphasis put on passenger comfort and airline employee working conditions can be traced back to a common cause: the deregulation of the US airline industry and the relentless pursuit of profit.

Since the 1980s there has been a vicious assault on both passenger comfort and airline employees’ living standards across the country. The origins of this assault can be traced to one of Ronald Reagan’s first actions as president: to crush the strike of the Air Traffic Controllers Union. Deregulation of the airline industry has decreased our ability to act collectively to maintain a decent life. This is felt most acutely by Delta employees, who remain the least unionized of the four major US carriers that have together monopolized the skies (the others are United, American, and Southwest).

By supporting our fight for a union, passengers can help us make the flying experience better for everyone.
Over the last 40 years our employment conditions have worsened. In the 1980s, the vast majority of our jobs were full time with excellent benefits. Today, our jobs continue to be replaced by cheaper, part time, non-benefit positions that Delta has appropriately named “Ready Reserve.” This has all been done in the name of increasing Delta’s profitability by introducing hyper-exploitable workers required to do the same work without equal compensation.

This campaign against Delta employees has been waged with little opposition, but it doesn’t have to remain unchallenged. We can fight back by organizing ourselves into a union that will give us a say in setting our working conditions, the wages we receive, and the benefits we deserve.

As long as we aren’t organized, Delta executives can change any of our conditions whenever they please. This was most clearly felt in February, when Delta announced record profits but cut our profit-sharing checks by more than half, from 21 percent to 10 percent. The only group to maintain their profit-sharing payout was the pilots, who leveraged their union representation to negotiate wage increases of 30 percent without a reduction in profit sharing.

one for Delta Flight Attendants and the other for Ramp/Cargo/Tower employees. Workers who are tired of being bullied into submission, tired of feeling like their jobs aren’t secure, and tired of being asked to do more for less should get involved in the union drive, sign authorization cards for an election, and ask coworkers to do the same. Delta passengers who resent the airline industry’s incessant cost-cutting can have their say—and support the rights of workers—by standing with us in our fight to unionize and make the flying experience better for everyone.

Together, we can reverse the decades-long assault against both airline employees and passengers, making all of our lives better in the process.

Tags: airline deregulationhealth and safetyworking conditions
Categories: Labor News

Iran: Urgent action needed to help free education unionist on hunger strike

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Education International
Categories: Labor News

Qatar: World Cup 2018: Fifa admits workers have suffered human rights abuses

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Guardian
Categories: Labor News

The problems with the TTC’s random testing - Toronto ATU Local 113 member Speaks Out

Current News - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 15:48

The problems with the TTC’s random testing

Toronto ATU Local 113 member Speaks Out

http://rankandfile.ca/2017/05/25/the-problems-with-the-ttcs-random-testing/
Posted on May 25, 2017 in ATU, public transit, Toronto
by Donna Burman
member of ATU Local 113

img_1579Random Testing was introduced by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) on May 8, 2017 as part of its Fitness for Duty policy. Currently, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113, which represents 11,000 TTC workers, has been in arbitration with the TTC over this matter. In recent months, TTC found the arbitration case was moving too slow and decided to implement random testing. The union sought an injunction but lost and is now currently grieving the injunction decision.

So where does that leave us?

It’s plain to see the TTC and Ontario government want random testing. In fact, the TTC will be asking the Ontario government to make random testing mandatory for public transit agencies.

The TTC’s position is that there is a significant problem with impairment as a threat to the safe operation of the TTC and to the public.

As far as the TTC is concerned, random testing not only reduces the risk of workplace accidents and injuries but it is also an effective deterrent and proactive in detecting issues before an accident.

Why the opposition?

On the surface, random testing looks great in attempting to address a significant issue. Yet under the surface lies the root of the problem: ATU Local 113 members oppose random testing because it is a violation of privacy rights and is a discriminatory policy.

The TTC has a ‘self-disclosure’ period in which every employee has the opportunity to disclose any medication that they are taking. This is referring to long term use of any medications with impairing side effects.

mar 24 in reviewSo, instead of looking for cannabis and other illegal drugs, TTC now wants ALL medications listed that are not only legal but prescribed by a medical professional. The employer wants to know about the complete medical background of each employee.

Hence, the policy discriminates based on an employee’s medical issues because the scope has been broadened to include every form of medication; medication that is considered private information between a medical professional and the employee.

Self-disclosure or discipline?

Under the Ontario Human Rights Code policy on alcohol and drug testing, random testing cannot be used to deter or monitor alcohol and/or drug use for moral reasons by the employer. Rather, random testing is used to strike an appropriate balance between safety-sensitive requirements and human rights. This means alcohol or drug issues are to be treated as a disability that the employer has a duty to accommodate.(1)

Yes, any employer can ask for reasonable medical information from any employee so that the proper accommodation can be made (if possible). That means that the employee has a reason to co-operate so that the accommodation occurs. When a random test occurs and there is found to be some impairment, any employer must accommodate the employee to the point of undue hardship. That means, the employer cannot discipline the employee for having a disability.

This sounds fair enough, except with TTC’s policy to ‘self-disclose’ now means discipline. If any employee has not self-disclosed any medication and a positive result occurs on a random test, they are now relieved of duty. If any employee refuses to be tested, again they are relieved of duty as a refusal is an omission of guilt.

Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, there is not to be any unnecessary and undue hardship on the employee otherwise it becomes grounds for discrimination. Yet TTCs’ mandate is to discipline.

It is easily understandable why TTC employees would oppose random testing. Even though there are clear guidelines set out by the OHRC, TTC has their own set of rules from the tools used in random testing to the consequences imposed from a negative result.

Save your job, lose your wages

TTC has argued that most offenders have kept their jobs so there isn’t any undue hardship on the employee. Between 2014 to 2016, there were 55 disciplinary incidents associated with the Fitness for Duty policy which Step 3 grievances were filed. Out of the 55, 43 resulted in the employee’s reinstatement to employment. Out of the 55 incidents, 37 involved employees who declared having a substance use disorder.(1)

ttc-employeesWhat this does not disclose is lost wages through the process. Step 3 grievances are usually on or about 15 days or 3 weeks of lost time to any TTC employee. This is the reason why ATU Local 113 union has informed its members to currently comply with Random Testing while the case continues to be fought in the courts.

Is there actually a problem at the TTC?

For any random drug and alcohol test to be justified, an employer must demonstrate that the workplace is dangerous and establish that a general problem exists in that workplace.

Is the TTC random testing justified? TTC released its facts on this general problem before and after the Fitness for Duty policy was enacted when pre-screening testing was a term of employment and there was testing after an incident at work.

Before TTC provided that between January 1, 2006 and September 2008 (when the Fitness for Duty policy was approved) there were approximately 40 drug or alcohol-related incidents involving TTC employees.(2)

From October 2008 to October 2010 (implementation of policy), there were a further 53 drug or alcohol-related incidents involving TTC employees.(3)

After the Fitness for Duty policy in October 2010, pre-screening tests from 2010-2016 yielded a 2.4% positive test rate. Let’s assume that the ones with positive tests did not get hired. Between 2010 and 2016 a total of 45 incidents of impairment were detected in car houses, maintenance and so on.

20131220-New-TTC-articulated-bus-4136-Photo_by_Corbin_SmithThere were 45 incidents over 6 years, that is on average 7.4 incidents per year. Percentage that is 0.0007% out of a working populace of 11,000 or 1 out of 1466 members detected signs of impairment from current policies and procedures.(4)

The numbers basically represent not a problem but rather abnormalities. ATU Local 113 members are not a significant problem like the TTC implies they are.

It all comes down to the question why? Why does TTC want Random Testing as a form of a legitimate safety?

Citations
1. Factum of the Respondent, pg. 32.
2. Factum of the Respondent, pg. 9
3. Factum of the Respondent, pg. 10
4. Factum of the Respondent, pg. 13

Tags: ATU Local 113drug testingrandom testingFitness for duty
Categories: Labor News

The problems with the TTC’s random testing - Toronto ATU Local 113 member Speaks Out

Current News - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 15:48

The problems with the TTC’s random testing

Toronto ATU Local 113 member Speaks Out

http://rankandfile.ca/2017/05/25/the-problems-with-the-ttcs-random-testing/
Posted on May 25, 2017 in ATU, public transit, Toronto
by Donna Burman
member of ATU Local 113

img_1579Random Testing was introduced by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) on May 8, 2017 as part of its Fitness for Duty policy. Currently, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113, which represents 11,000 TTC workers, has been in arbitration with the TTC over this matter. In recent months, TTC found the arbitration case was moving too slow and decided to implement random testing. The union sought an injunction but lost and is now currently grieving the injunction decision.

So where does that leave us?

It’s plain to see the TTC and Ontario government want random testing. In fact, the TTC will be asking the Ontario government to make random testing mandatory for public transit agencies.

The TTC’s position is that there is a significant problem with impairment as a threat to the safe operation of the TTC and to the public.

As far as the TTC is concerned, random testing not only reduces the risk of workplace accidents and injuries but it is also an effective deterrent and proactive in detecting issues before an accident.

Why the opposition?

On the surface, random testing looks great in attempting to address a significant issue. Yet under the surface lies the root of the problem: ATU Local 113 members oppose random testing because it is a violation of privacy rights and is a discriminatory policy.

The TTC has a ‘self-disclosure’ period in which every employee has the opportunity to disclose any medication that they are taking. This is referring to long term use of any medications with impairing side effects.

mar 24 in reviewSo, instead of looking for cannabis and other illegal drugs, TTC now wants ALL medications listed that are not only legal but prescribed by a medical professional. The employer wants to know about the complete medical background of each employee.

Hence, the policy discriminates based on an employee’s medical issues because the scope has been broadened to include every form of medication; medication that is considered private information between a medical professional and the employee.

Self-disclosure or discipline?

Under the Ontario Human Rights Code policy on alcohol and drug testing, random testing cannot be used to deter or monitor alcohol and/or drug use for moral reasons by the employer. Rather, random testing is used to strike an appropriate balance between safety-sensitive requirements and human rights. This means alcohol or drug issues are to be treated as a disability that the employer has a duty to accommodate.(1)

Yes, any employer can ask for reasonable medical information from any employee so that the proper accommodation can be made (if possible). That means that the employee has a reason to co-operate so that the accommodation occurs. When a random test occurs and there is found to be some impairment, any employer must accommodate the employee to the point of undue hardship. That means, the employer cannot discipline the employee for having a disability.

This sounds fair enough, except with TTC’s policy to ‘self-disclose’ now means discipline. If any employee has not self-disclosed any medication and a positive result occurs on a random test, they are now relieved of duty. If any employee refuses to be tested, again they are relieved of duty as a refusal is an omission of guilt.

Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, there is not to be any unnecessary and undue hardship on the employee otherwise it becomes grounds for discrimination. Yet TTCs’ mandate is to discipline.

It is easily understandable why TTC employees would oppose random testing. Even though there are clear guidelines set out by the OHRC, TTC has their own set of rules from the tools used in random testing to the consequences imposed from a negative result.

Save your job, lose your wages

TTC has argued that most offenders have kept their jobs so there isn’t any undue hardship on the employee. Between 2014 to 2016, there were 55 disciplinary incidents associated with the Fitness for Duty policy which Step 3 grievances were filed. Out of the 55, 43 resulted in the employee’s reinstatement to employment. Out of the 55 incidents, 37 involved employees who declared having a substance use disorder.(1)

ttc-employeesWhat this does not disclose is lost wages through the process. Step 3 grievances are usually on or about 15 days or 3 weeks of lost time to any TTC employee. This is the reason why ATU Local 113 union has informed its members to currently comply with Random Testing while the case continues to be fought in the courts.

Is there actually a problem at the TTC?

For any random drug and alcohol test to be justified, an employer must demonstrate that the workplace is dangerous and establish that a general problem exists in that workplace.

Is the TTC random testing justified? TTC released its facts on this general problem before and after the Fitness for Duty policy was enacted when pre-screening testing was a term of employment and there was testing after an incident at work.

Before TTC provided that between January 1, 2006 and September 2008 (when the Fitness for Duty policy was approved) there were approximately 40 drug or alcohol-related incidents involving TTC employees.(2)

From October 2008 to October 2010 (implementation of policy), there were a further 53 drug or alcohol-related incidents involving TTC employees.(3)

After the Fitness for Duty policy in October 2010, pre-screening tests from 2010-2016 yielded a 2.4% positive test rate. Let’s assume that the ones with positive tests did not get hired. Between 2010 and 2016 a total of 45 incidents of impairment were detected in car houses, maintenance and so on.

20131220-New-TTC-articulated-bus-4136-Photo_by_Corbin_SmithThere were 45 incidents over 6 years, that is on average 7.4 incidents per year. Percentage that is 0.0007% out of a working populace of 11,000 or 1 out of 1466 members detected signs of impairment from current policies and procedures.(4)

The numbers basically represent not a problem but rather abnormalities. ATU Local 113 members are not a significant problem like the TTC implies they are.

It all comes down to the question why? Why does TTC want Random Testing as a form of a legitimate safety?

Citations
1. Factum of the Respondent, pg. 32.
2. Factum of the Respondent, pg. 9
3. Factum of the Respondent, pg. 10
4. Factum of the Respondent, pg. 13

Tags: ATU Local 113drug testingrandom testingFitness for duty
Categories: Labor News

ILWU Local 10 SSA Workers Walk Out To Protest Racist Nooses

Current News - Thu, 05/25/2017 - 17:51

ILWU Local 10 SSA Workers Walk Out To Protest Nooses
Second noose in 2 weeks found at Port of Oakland terminal
http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Second-noose-in-two-weeks-found-at-Po...
By Evan Sernoffsky Updated 5:24 pm, Thursday, May 25, 2017

A worker at the Port of Oakland discovered a noose inside a truck at a shipping terminal Thursday — the latest in a series of racist incidents at the facility in recent weeks, officials said.
Thursday’s episode was the second noose found at the port in two weeks and prompted SSA Marine workers at the Oakland International Container Terminal to walk off the job for several hours in the morning, said Derrick Muhammad, secretary-treasurer of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10.
“This kind of thing adds to the insecurity and the feeling of unsafeness,” Muhammad said. “When you have 80,000-pound boxes and fast-moving equipment, you want to feel safe in that environment. Then when you must worry about racism and hatred, that just adds to the discomfort.”
Bob Watters, senior vice president of SSA Marine, said that he was aware of the episode and that the company is taking steps to investigate.
An arbiter, though, determined the noose did not qualify as a legitimate health-and-safety issue, and union workers headed back to the job around noon, he said.
“From our understanding, the object in question was the size of a key-chain lanyard,” Watters said. “SSA has a zero-tolerance policy for any discriminatory behavior.”
In November, someone scrawled racist graffiti on equipment inside a shipping terminal, Muhammad said. The racial epithet was scrawled on the leg of a transtainer, a large piece of equipment used to load and unload shipping containers.
Two weeks ago, workers found a noose attached to a fence at the entrance of the same terminal, Muhammad said.
Workers said they are concerned because two of the incidents happened inside the terminal gates, signaling the culprit may have special access to the area.
“Our workforce is more than 70 percent African American,” Muhammad said. “Considering the history that black people have in America, this kind of thing is not good — not good.”
Oakland police said they were looking into the incidents.
Evan Sernoffsky is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: esernoffsky@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @EvanSernoffsky

Tags: racist noosesILWU Local 10racismstrike action
Categories: Labor News

Israel: Nissenkorn easily retains leadership of Histadrut

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 05/25/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Times of Israel
Categories: Labor News

Israel: Court halts voting in Histadrut leadership election

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 05/24/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Ynet
Categories: Labor News

Kenya’s Struggling Uber Drivers Fear a New Competitor: Uber Wage Cutting For Bigger Profits

Current News - Mon, 05/22/2017 - 21:53

Kenya’s Struggling Uber Drivers Fear a New Competitor: Uber Wage Cutting For Bigger Profits

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/22/world/africa/uber-kenya-driver-protes...

By KIMIKO de FREYTAS-TAMURAMAY 22, 2017

Photo

Traffic in downtown Nairobi, Kenya. CreditAdriane Ohanesian for The New York Times
NAIROBI, Kenya — James Njoroge, an Uber driver in Nairobi, earns barely $5 at the end of a grueling 10-hour workday ferrying customers through snarled traffic across the Kenyan capital. Now a new competitor is in town, threatening to undercut even these meager earnings.

That rival is none other than Mr. Njoroge’s own employer.

Uber in Kenya, already one of the company’s most affordable services in the world, charges customers in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, a minimum fare of $2.90.

Uber is aiming to beat back competing services by pushing its prices even lower. In April, the San Francisco-based company announced it was introducing an even cheaper service at half that price, $1.45, by allowing its drivers to use much older, lower-quality cars.

Drivers say they’re bearing the brunt of the price cuts. In February, drivers went on strike to protest fare cuts that they said made it difficult for them to break even. The new pricing is much lower than that.The prospect of losing what is already a threadbare living is making Mr. Njoroge, 29, nervous.

“We’ve been working for them so much, but now they’re slashing us,” he said recently, slowing down his Toyota, a seven-year-old model, hardly brand-new but newer than the cars expected to be part of the fleet for the coming service, uberGO. He waited patiently for a herd of goats, led by two teenagers wearing Adidas hoodies, to cross the road. Traffic swiftly packed up from behind. “Kenyans always go for cheap-cheap, so this is worrying,” he said. “I don’t know what to do.”

Uber has quickly expanded across parts of Africa, where it is seen by those signing up as drivers — or “partners” in the Uber lingo — as a rare job opportunity on a continent with stubbornly high levels of unemployment.

But the service has stirred debate over how low fares should go, and the company has faced a series of strikes from South Africa to Lagos. This month, drivers in Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest city, went on strike after fares were slashed by 40 percent.

Faced with fierce competition from other ride-hailing apps, Uber’s latest service in Kenya, critics say, would pit its own drivers against each other in a kind of cannibalistic race to the bottom, eroding what little they already earn.

“To live in Nairobi, it’s very hard,” Mr. Njoroge said recently in his home in Umoja, a dusty but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Nairobi where, within a short space of time, a fight broke out, a minibus with “Rock Gospel” stenciled on its side unloaded passengers, a man hawked grilled meat and a fashionably dressed woman crossed paths with a strutting rooster.

“You have to hustle on all sides,” he said. “If we don’t have many clients,” he said, referring to competition from uberGO, “we’ll need to find new options for work.” Mr. Njoroge already has two other side hustles.Uber insists that the new service would allow drivers to save on fuel and other expenses, ultimately making their jobs more profitable.

“Revenues might not be higher, but the costs will be lower, so ultimately profits will be higher,” Alon Lits, Uber’s general manager for sub-Saharan Africa, said in an interview. “We believe our economics make sense,” he said, but added that the company was in the process of getting feedback from drivers in order to “interrogate our assumptions before moving forward.”

In Nairobi, Uber and its competitors like Taxify, an Estonian company, and Little Cab, a company owned by Kenya’s mobile network giant Safaricom that offers free Wi-Fi in its cars, are aiming to capture clientele from a rising, but fragile, middle class that still values affordability, sometimes at the expense of quality of service or even vehicle safety. Competition is fierce even among apps for notoriously dangerous boda-bodas, or motorcycle taxis, which are a major cause of road accidents.

In February, a series of strikes by an informal union of Uber drivers forced the company to raise the minimum fare to $2.90 from about $2, and rates to 39 cents per kilometer, up from 33 cents. But many drivers say uberGO, which is 29 cents a kilometer, is a fresh attempt to bring down rates, given that many cost-conscious customers are likely to use the cheaper service. The company last month said it was even offering $30 — six times Mr. Njoroge’s net daily earnings — as an inducement to drivers to sign up to the new, cut-price service.

Mr. Njoroge and many other Uber drivers expressed anxiety not just about losing customers but also about failing to meet car loans — loans that Uber helped them secure in the first place and that require drivers to stay with the company until they’re paid off.

Continue reading the main story

Photo

Boda-bodas in Nairobi’s Westlands area. The motorcycle taxis are considered a major cause of road accidents.CreditAdriane Ohanesian for The New York Times

Uber sponsors its drivers based on their earnings record with the company. Without Uber, drivers struggle to obtain auto loans, even for secondhand cars, because banks require borrowers to earn monthly salaries of 50,000 Kenyan shillings, or about $485. That is far above what most ordinary Kenyans, even those with diplomas and degrees, can hope to earn.

Once a driver pays off the loan, which typically takes about three years, the car is the driver’s to keep, although by that stage it will typically be 10 years old. At that point drivers can leave Uber and start their own businesses, although many drivers said they intended to stick with Uber. Free of car-loan payments, they would keep significantly more of what they earn.

Until the final loan installment is made, however, drivers are pretty much at the company’s mercy. If they have not logged on to Uber’s softwarefor a week or so, the company sends a warning. If they’re absent for an extended period of time, and Uber decommissions them, the bank could withdraw its loan.

Uber “gives with one hand and takes with the other,” said Samuel Gichia, another Uber driver, who nonetheless appreciated the freedom that Uber offered. “My car is my office,” he said, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel as he listened to reggae music. “When you no longer have a loan, that’s when Uber is going to be very sweet.”

Drivers also complain that the Uber algorithm means they will be paid only for distance traveled and no longer receive extra fare when they are stuck in traffic. That amounts to an effective pay cut, since the driver loses fuel, time and the opportunity to pick up new passengers. A two-hour journey over a short distance could still carry a fare of only $2.90 — the minimum fare — because “you haven’t moved,” said Mr. Njoroge. (Even then, Uber takes its 25 percent cut.) Mr. Lits of Uber denied those claims, saying drivers do receive compensation for time spent in traffic.

Uber drivers say they might make 6,000 Kenyan shillings, or $58, a day, which doesn’t seem that bad by Kenyan standards — until they lay out their laundry lists of loans and work-related expenses. From that $58, drivers typically have to pay $19 for the car loan, $19 on fuel and another $14.50 for Uber’s commission. Once insurance is paid, there’s very little left.

Take Mr. Njoroge, the eldest of six siblings — the other five are still in various stages of schooling — and a father of one.

Mr. Njoroge, who had a string of odd jobs after graduating from university in agricultural sciences, turned to Uber in 2015 when it began in Kenya. Uber, he thought, would give him more independence, the ability to support his wife and son, now 2 years old, and a chance to buy a secondhand car.

After settling his car payments and paying for fuel, he said, he has about $5 left by the end of the day. On Fridays and Saturdays, when he is busier picking up night revelers, he makes net earnings of about $10.

He supplements his income with commissions from selling electronic credit for M-Pesa, a money transfer service on mobile phones, and also working as an agent for a local bank.

Mr. Njoroge complains little. He looked wistful when asked about his dreams and ambitions, but remained silent.

Back on the road, he finally gave his response.

“Right now, I can’t tell,” he said, as his car inched its way across town. “Right now, it’s just surviving.”

Tags: UberKenyawage cutting
Categories: Labor News

India: From war protestors to labour activism: India’s first IT workers union

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 05/22/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Scroll
Categories: Labor News

Crooked UBER Ripping Off Drivers Again

Current News - Mon, 05/22/2017 - 12:23

Crooked UBER Ripping Off Drivers Again

Uber admits it charged riders more than what drivers saw

http://www.sfexaminer.com/uber-admits-charged-riders-drivers-saw/

A recent report found that Uber has been charging riders a different price than what drivers thought they were being charged. (James Chan/Special to S.F. Examiner)
By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez on May 22, 2017 1:00 am

Since last year, Uber drivers suspected that riders were being charged one price, while drivers themselves were seeing another, often lesser price when the trip was done.

Turns out, drivers were right.

In a Bloomberg News interview published Friday, Uber revealed they were indeed charging riders a different amount than drivers saw as the charge for a trip.

That’s significant, Christian Perea, a San Francisco-based Uber driver said, because riders may be charged a higher amount upfront — say, $25 to go downtown — but drivers will only earn a percentage off a smaller charge, like $20, when a trip is complete.
Uber pockets the difference, Perea said.

“More often than not, the driver would end up earning less on that ride then what Uber charged you, the passenger,” Perea said, because the driver would take a more efficient route than Uber’s upfront pricing system “guessed” the driver would take.

“It was in Uber’s interest to charge a little higher,” he added.

Perea is also a writer for the blog The Rideshare Guy, followed religiously by thousands of Lyft and Uber drivers. In September last year, and other times since, Perea and Harry Campbell, founder of The Rideshare Guy blog, calculated fares and fees from many drivers to reveal Uber showed different prices to drivers and riders.

In a statement to the San Francisco Examiner, an Uber spokesperson wrote, “We price routes differently based on our understanding of riders’ choices so we can serve more people in more places at fares they can afford.”

Uber sent an email to its drivers on May 19, and listed a number of changes to how it shows driver earnings, including more transparency, seemingly in response to this issue.

“These changes reflect that there are times when what a rider pays may be higher or lower than what you earn for a trip,” Uber wrote in the email to its drivers.

Riders will “always know the cost of a trip before requesting a ride,” the spokesperson added, and drivers will “earn consistently for the work they perform with full transparency” into what a rider pays and what Uber makes on every trip.

Perea said some newer Uber drivers may not mind the new pay structure, and he lauded Uber’s recent move toward transparency.

However, he also said that Uber has justified rate cuts for drivers saying the company needed to lower prices to entice riders. Charging riders more, he said, runs counter to that argument.

“As a driver I just spent the last four years through six price cuts having my pay basically trimmed to the point where it’s terrible,” he said. “Being told we need to ‘lower the prices’ so more people will take Uber.”

“We knew it was bull the whole time,” he said.

Tags: Uberdriver rip-offfraud
Categories: Labor News

Crooked UBER Ripping Off Drivers Again

Current News - Mon, 05/22/2017 - 12:23

Crooked UBER Ripping Off Drivers Again

Uber admits it charged riders more than what drivers saw

http://www.sfexaminer.com/uber-admits-charged-riders-drivers-saw/

A recent report found that Uber has been charging riders a different price than what drivers thought they were being charged. (James Chan/Special to S.F. Examiner)
By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez on May 22, 2017 1:00 am

Since last year, Uber drivers suspected that riders were being charged one price, while drivers themselves were seeing another, often lesser price when the trip was done.

Turns out, drivers were right.

In a Bloomberg News interview published Friday, Uber revealed they were indeed charging riders a different amount than drivers saw as the charge for a trip.

That’s significant, Christian Perea, a San Francisco-based Uber driver said, because riders may be charged a higher amount upfront — say, $25 to go downtown — but drivers will only earn a percentage off a smaller charge, like $20, when a trip is complete.
Uber pockets the difference, Perea said.

“More often than not, the driver would end up earning less on that ride then what Uber charged you, the passenger,” Perea said, because the driver would take a more efficient route than Uber’s upfront pricing system “guessed” the driver would take.

“It was in Uber’s interest to charge a little higher,” he added.

Perea is also a writer for the blog The Rideshare Guy, followed religiously by thousands of Lyft and Uber drivers. In September last year, and other times since, Perea and Harry Campbell, founder of The Rideshare Guy blog, calculated fares and fees from many drivers to reveal Uber showed different prices to drivers and riders.

In a statement to the San Francisco Examiner, an Uber spokesperson wrote, “We price routes differently based on our understanding of riders’ choices so we can serve more people in more places at fares they can afford.”

Uber sent an email to its drivers on May 19, and listed a number of changes to how it shows driver earnings, including more transparency, seemingly in response to this issue.

“These changes reflect that there are times when what a rider pays may be higher or lower than what you earn for a trip,” Uber wrote in the email to its drivers.

Riders will “always know the cost of a trip before requesting a ride,” the spokesperson added, and drivers will “earn consistently for the work they perform with full transparency” into what a rider pays and what Uber makes on every trip.

Perea said some newer Uber drivers may not mind the new pay structure, and he lauded Uber’s recent move toward transparency.

However, he also said that Uber has justified rate cuts for drivers saying the company needed to lower prices to entice riders. Charging riders more, he said, runs counter to that argument.

“As a driver I just spent the last four years through six price cuts having my pay basically trimmed to the point where it’s terrible,” he said. “Being told we need to ‘lower the prices’ so more people will take Uber.”

“We knew it was bull the whole time,” he said.

Tags: Uberdriver rip-offfraud
Categories: Labor News

Swedish Port Bosses and Exporters Want Government To Intervene Against Swedish Dockworkers’ Union (SDU)

Current News - Sat, 05/20/2017 - 14:17

Swedish Port Bosses and Exporters Want Government To Intervene Against Swedish Dockworkers’ Union (SDU)

Escalating Dockworkers’ Conflict Now Threatens Swedish Economy
http://gcaptain.com/escalating-dockworkers-conflict-now-threatens-swedis...

May 19, 2017 by Bloomberg

Container capacity at APM Terminals’ facility in the Port of Gothenburg has fallen 80% in the past six months due to the labour dispute. Photo credit: Port of Gothenburg
By Niclas Rolander and Hanna Hoikkala (Bloomberg) — As a drawn-out labor conflict at the Nordic region’s largest port escalates, some of Sweden’s largest exporters are warning they may be forced to find alternative harbors abroad to safeguard shipments.

Container capacity at A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S’ APM Terminals facility in Gothenburg has in the past six months dropped to 80 percent of the normal weekly level of 10,000 containers due to a conflict with the Swedish Dockworkers’ Union. It could drop to 40 percent in the coming days as APM plans a partial lockout in response to the industrial action.

The port handles about half of Sweden’s total container trade, so the stakes are high.

SKF AB, the world’s largest maker of ball bearings, is warning that it may need to permanently relocate shipments to ports in northern Europe if the conflict drags on. Stora Enso Oyj, whose paper, pulp and sawed-wood products account for 10 percent of the terminal’s volumes, is calling on the government to step in to help resolve the conflict.

“The port’s operation is crucial for us to be able to ship our forestry products to global markets in a cost-efficient way,” Stora Enso Chief Executive Officer Karl-Henrik Sundstrom said in a letter to the government.

Having to relocate shipments from the busiest and largest port in Scandinavia could pose a major challenge for an economy such as Sweden’s, where exports represent 44 percent of economic output. Exporters would probably have to send their goods by truck to German ports such as Hamburg and Bremerhaven, Rotterdam in the Netherlands or Antwerp in Belgium. That would add time and drive up costs.

Higher Costs

While some goods can be shipped from southern Swedish ports such as Varberg and Helsingborg, they don’t have the capacity to handle any larger volumes.

Theo Kjellberg, a spokesman for Gothenburg-based SKF, said that means the company is considering ports further south in Europe. Still. “that would require longer road transports, which would increase costs for everyone,” he said.

APM Terminals has warned of a partial lockout from May 19 until June 30, in response to blockades imposed by local 4 of the dockworkers’ union, which is seeking to become a party to a collective bargaining agreement that’s signed by the Transport Workers’ Union among other demands. During the lockout, the terminal will offer “only a limited daytime service,” according to APM.

The terminal has had a dialogue with 240 of its customers, and has the understanding of all of these, even as they could now be forced to find alternative solutions next week, according to spokeswoman Annika Hilmersson.

Not Talking

“We’re facing a very dramatic escalation of the conflict,” said Erik Helgeson, spokesman of the dockworkers’ local. “The actions the employer is threatening to take are far more wide-reaching than anything we’ve done since last year.”

The union, which organizes 85 percent of workers at the terminal, claims that APM’s management has introduced an anti-union policy and delayed overtime payments.

As for a potential solution?

“It’s not realistic as long as we aren’t even talking to each other,” he said.

The union has rejected several proposals over the past year and its continued action is now having “severe national consequences,” APM Terminals Gothenburg CEO Henrik Kristensen said in an emailed response to questions.

The dockworkers local “has never in the past had a labor agreement and since the union doesn’t want to reach a legal agreement, APM Terminals calls upon the government to intervene,” he said.

Support Union Longshoremen shared Hamn4an's photo.
https://www.facebook.com/151286914891216/posts/1385948684758360

November 15, 2016 ·

Hamn4an
November 15, 2016 ·
LIKE AND SHARE TO SUPPORT THE STRIKE!
The port operator APM Terminals Gothenburg today rejected all demands from the Swedish Dockworkers' Union, which organizes 85% of the dockworkers at the container terminal. We are now forced to increase the pressure and step up industrial action to resolve the problems in the workplace.
As of 14.00 today, the dockworkers in the biggest port in Scandinavia are on strike. We need your support. Do you support the strike? Like and share!

#backastrejken #hamn4an #svenskahamnarbetarförbundet

About a year ago, APM Terminals Gothenburg adopted a very aggressive new personnel policy. The terminal management has shown absolutely no respect or concern for it's employees, and has been unwilling to compromise in the extended negotiations that have dragged on since last winter.

Our demands to APM Terminals are of a very basic nature:

GUARANTEE TRADE UNION RIGHTS
The SDU demands written guarantees that the company will grant trade unions the right to freely form its’ negotiating delegations and to continuously inform its’ members on current issues and developments. Company dictates, interferences and sanctions must end.
.
RESPECT THE JURISDICTION AND THE RIGHT TO OUR JOBS
The SDU demands an immediate stop to the company’s practice of sporadically delegating dockworkers’ or mooring crew’s tasks to manage reefers or secure ships to other parts of the workforce.

HONOR STANDING AGREEMENTS
The SDU demands that dockworkers who were promised compensation for extra work hours during a period of changing work patterns be paid immediately.

STOP USING SICK OR AGING CASUAL DOCKWORKERS AS BARGAINING CHIPS
The SDU demands their 60-year old member immediately receives previously agreed upon retraining for less physically demanding tasks. All cynical counter-demands for collective ¨no strike”-clauses or concessions regarding terms and conditions must be dropped.

RE-ESTABLISH SYSTEMATIC HEALTH & SAFETY COOPERATION
The SDU demands written guarantees of union H&S officer participation in all future risk assessments and accident enquiries involving blue-collar workers.

ACKNOWLEDGE VALID LAWS AND CONTRACTS CONCERNING VACATION, PARENTAL LEAVE AND TIME BANK APPLICATIONS
The SDU demands written guarantees that APMT will henceforth adhere to the time limits and rules in the Annual Leave Act, the Parental Leave Act, and the local time bank CBA. The stress and pressure inflicted on dockworker families due to delayed decisions and unlawful rejections this summer cannot be repeated.

I Support The Swedish Dockworker’s Union Strike
https://me.me/i/i-support-the-strike-swedish-dockworkers-union-is-fighti...
I SUPPORT THE STRIKE! SWEDISH DOCKWORKER'S UNION IS FIGHTING FOR BASIC RIGHTS AT APMT GUARANTEE TRADE UNION RIGHTS RESPECT OUR RIGHT TO OUR JOBS HONOR STANDING AGREEMENTS AND CBAS STOP USING SICK OR AGING CASUAL DOCKERS AS BARGAINING CHIPS RE-ESTABLISH SYSTEMATIC HEALTH & SAFETY COOPERATION ABIDE BY THE ANNUAL LEAVE ACT AND THE PARENTAL LEAVE ACT LIKE AND SHARE TO SUPPORT THE STRIKE! THE PORT OPERATOR APM TERMINALS GOTHENBURG TODAY REJECTED ALL DEMANDS FROM THE SWEDISH DOCKWORKERS' UNION WHICH ORGANIZES 85% OF THE DOCKWORKERS AT THE CONTAINER TERMINAL WE ARE NOW FORCED TO INCREASE THE PRESSURE AND STEP UP INDUSTRIAL ACTION TO RESOLVE THE PROBLEMS IN THE WORKPLACE AS OF 1400 TODAY THE DOCKWORKERS IN THE BIGGEST PORT IN SCANDINAVIA ARE ON STRIKE WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT DO YOU SUPPORT THE STRIKE? LIKE AND SHARE! #BACKASTREJKEN #HAMN4AN #SVENSKAHAMNARBETARFÖRBUNDET ABOUT A YEAR AGO APM TERMINALS GOTHENBURG ADOPTED A VERY AGGRESSIVE NEW PERSONNEL POLICY THE TERMINAL MANAGEMENT HAS SHOWN ABSOLUTELY NO RESPECT OR CONCERN FOR IT'S EMPLOYEES AND HAS BEEN UNWILLING TO COMPROMISE IN THE EXTENDED NEGOTIATIONS THAT HAVE DRAGGED ON SINCE LAST WINTER OUR DEMANDS TO APM TERMINALS ARE OF A VERY BASIC NATURE GUARANTEE TRADE UNION RIGHTS THE SDU DEMANDS WRITTEN GUARANTEES THAT THE COMPANY WILL GRANT TRADE UNIONS THE RIGHT TO FREELY FORM ITS’ NEGOTIATING DELEGATIONS AND TO CONTINUOUSLY INFORM ITS’ MEMBERS ON CURRENT ISSUES AND DEVELOPMENTS COMPANY DICTATES INTERFERENCES AND SANCTIONS MUST END RESPECT THE JURISDICTION AND THE RIGHT TO OUR JOBS THE SDU DEMANDS AN IMMEDIATE STOP TO THE COMPANY’S PRACTICE OF SPORADICALLY DELEGATING DOCKWORKERS’ OR MOORING CREW’S TASKS TO MANAGE REEFERS OR SECURE SHIPS TO OTHER PARTS OF THE WORKFORCE HONOR STANDING AGREEMENTS THE SDU DEMANDS THAT DOCKWORKERS WHO WERE PROMISED COMPENSATION FOR EXTRA WORK HOURS DURING A PERIOD OF CHANGING WORK PATTERNS BE PAID IMMEDIATELY STOP USING SICK OR AGING CASUAL DOCKWORKERS AS BARGAINING CHIPS THE SDU DEMANDS THEIR 60-YEAR OLD MEMBER IMMEDIATELY RECEIVES PREVIOUSLY AGREED UPON RETRAINING FOR LESS PHYSICALLY DEMANDING TASKS ALL CYNICAL COUNTER-DEMANDS FOR COLLECTIVE ¨NO STRIKE”-CLAUSES OR CONCESSIONS REGARDING TERMS AND CONDITIONS MUST BE DROPPED RE-ESTABLISH SYSTEMATIC HEALTH & SAFETY COOPERATION THE SDU DEMANDS WRITTEN GUARANTEES OF UNION H&S OFFICER PARTICIPATION IN ALL FUTURE RISK ASSESSMENTS AND ACCIDENT ENQUIRIES INVOLVING BLUE-COLLAR WORKERS ACKNOWLEDGE VALID LAWS AND CONTRACTS CONCERNING VACATION PARENTAL LEAVE AND TIME BANK APPLICATIONS THE SDU DEMANDS WRITTEN GUARANTEES THAT APMT WILL HENCEFORTH ADHERE TO THE TIME LIMITS AND RULES IN THE ANNUAL LEAVE ACT THE PARENTAL LEAVE ACT AND THE LOCAL TIME BANK CBA THE STRESS AND PRESSURE INFLICTED ON DOCKWORKER FAMILIES DUE TO DELAYED DECISIONS AND UNLAWFUL REJECTIONS THIS SUMMER CANNOT BE REPEATED MEME

Swedish Dockworkers’ Union: Born Fighting Bosses and Bureaucrats
http://www.leftvoice.org/Swedish-Dockworkers-Union-Born-Fighting-Bosses-...

The Swedish Dockworkers’ Union (SDU), or Svenska Hamnarbetarförbundet (HAMN) in Swedish, has been shaped by decades of rank and file dockworkers’ rebellion, bureaucratic expulsions from a general transport union and a long history of international solidarity.
Sean Robertson
February 22, 2017
0

"Enighet ger segur" (Unity brings Victory) - Flag of SDU Local 4

For decades, Swedish dockworkers were members of the Swedish Transport Workers Union (STWU, known in Sweden as the Svenska Transportarbetareförbundet or simply Transport). But from the 1950s, the increasingly rebellious and militant nature of Swedish dockers ran into the obstacle of the STWU, a union which had become highly bureaucratic and unresponsive to the needs of dockworkers. Dockers grew increasingly angry at the way STWU leaders repeatedly ignored and overruled the opposition of elected dockworker representatives and agreed to sub-standard collective bargaining agreements against their wishes.

In 1951, dockworkers in Gothenburg went on strike in opposition to the STWU plans to accept the employer’s compromise agreement. STWU leaders then put a new agreement to an ‘advisory’ vote that was ‘non binding’ on the leadership. Dockers later discovered that this was all a charade, as STWU leaders had already signed the agreement before the ‘advisory’ vote was even taken.

In 1954, STWU leaders put a draft agreement that had already been rejected by dockworker negotiators to a membership vote. The result was 3366 votes against, 469 in favor and 1654 non-votes. Despite this massive ‘No’ vote, STWU leaders argued that the 1654 non-votes counted as affirmative votes and, as less than a two-thirds majority voted ‘No’, the agreement had in fact been approved. This maneuver triggered a nationwide dock strike which saw ‘illegal’ strikers threatened with expulsion from the union and individual strikers and local STWU dockworker branches fined by the Labor Court.

Similarly, despite unanimous rejections by dockworker negotiating delegations of proposed settlements in 1961 and 1966, STWU national leaders again approved sub-standard agreements over the heads of Swedish dockers.

Enter Hans “Hoffa” Eriksson

For many Swedish dockers, the election of Hans Eriksson as STWU President in 1968 was the last straw. Eriksson soon earned the nickname “Hoffa” after the U.S. Teamsters leader and mobster Jimmy Hoffa. Just like his U.S. counterpart, Eriksson was known for his close friendships with noted employers and his virulent anti-communism. Eriksson was eventually caught holidaying on the Canary Islands of Spain in early 1976 while Swedish unions were boycotting General Franco’s Spain, all with flights and accommodation paid for by Swedish employers. In January 1980 he would be dismissed from all SWTU duties after a dubious loan for an apartment, a lavish 50th birthday party paid for by union funds, and numerous travel allowance irregularities were discovered.

Hans Hoffa Eriksson

As president, Eriksson moved to further bureaucratize and undermine democracy in the STWU at the union’s 1969 Congress. He proposed that local representatives, known as “ombudsmen”, be hired instead of elected by members, that local district structures be replaced by merging them into larger regional structures overseen by appointed ombudsmen, and that most membership meetings be abolished.

Eriksson set out to have these new large union departments ready by the end of February 1972. However, northern dockworkers defied these plans and told him that they would keep the existing set up. “Hoffa” responded by expelling fifteen separate departments, with over 1000 members, from the STWU.

The Swedish Dockworkers’ Union is born

In November 1972, the excluded, mainly northern, departments of expelled STWU dockers formed the Swedish Dockworkers’ Union (SDU). Other dockworkers from across the country soon joined them.

Stockholm dockworkers’ leader Lennart Johnsson had led the fight against expulsions at the STWU’s August 1972 Congress. For his efforts, Eriksson expelled him from the STWU in January 1973 and targeted the STWU dockers branch in Stockholm for dissolution. Over 350 dockers responded by walking out of the STWU and joining the SDU. The STWU was left with only 37 dockworkers in Stockholm.

Similar events occurred in Gothenburg. After local dockers leader and Communist Party member Karl Hallgren was stripped of STWU membership, the members of the “red” Gothenburg dockers branch of the STWU left en masse to join the SDU.

The newly formed dockers’ union soon represented over half of the country’s dockworkers and the vast majority in Sweden’s largest port of Gothenburg.

1968 and all that

Along with their experiences in the increasingly bureaucratic STWU, dockworkers were also influenced by the industrial ferment and political radicalization of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Although nothing like the French general strike of 1968 or Italy’s ‘hot autumn’ of 1969, Sweden witnessed its own strike wave in late 1969 and early 1970. An outbreak of wildcat strikes began with a successful week-long strike of Gothenburg dockers in November 1969. This action sparked a three-month wave of wildcat strikes which saw miners, forestry workers, metal and auto workers, airport baggage handlers and civil servants all taking action. It was another strike by Gothenburg dockworkers in February 1970 that became the last major action before the strike wave petered out.

Along with industrial unrest, Sweden also saw its share of political ferment. When the Eurocommunist majority of the 16,000 member Communist Party changed the party’s name in 1967 to the Left Party - Communists (VKP - Vänsterpartiet - Kommunisterna), pro-China forces left the VKP and established a new Maoist organization. This organization, later known as the Communist Party of Sweden (SKP - Sveriges Kommunistiska Parti), came to dominate the militant wing of the anti-Vietnam War movement. Splits in the VKP’s youth wing gave birth to other new groups such as the “soft-Maoist” Communist League (FK - Förbundet Kommunist) in 1970. Both the SKP and FK quickly grew to around 1,500-2,000 members each.

Some of this ferment was felt on the Swedish waterfront. By the early 1970s, a number of influential VKP members such as Karl Hallgren were well established on the docks, the Maoist SKP and other radical groups had a number of dockworker members, while the “proletarianization campaign” of the FK was encouraging radical students to get jobs in the factories and on the docks.

One thing was certain. Any new dockers’ union formed in this climate of industrial and political unrest was bound to give the employing class nightmares.

Membership democracy

While the influence on the SDU of this militancy and radicalism cannot be denied, it was what dockers had endured during their time in the STWU that was most telling. SDU members sought to ensure that the decisions of elected dockworker representatives would never be ignored and overruled by an unaccountable leadership again.

The real power in the SDU resides in the thirteen local autonomous branches of the union, not in a national apparatus. Decision making in the 1,400-strong union is bottom-up not top-down, with all important decisions on negotiations, signing agreements and taking industrial action being taken by vote at membership meetings. All elected SDU officials are required to continue working in their jobs on the docks while they fulfill their representative duties. The salary of the SDU National President is set by the SDU Congress, must reflect the salaries of rank-and-file dockworkers and only rise in line with industry pay rises. These measures of democracy and accountability stand in stark contrast to what the rest of the Swedish union movement experiences.

Fighting for a collective agreement

Along with its unique member democracy, the SDU is also known its militancy. The union earned this reputation during its first two major struggles for a separate collective agreement in 1974 and 1980.

The fledgling SDU was first tested industrially during wage negotiations in 1974. Both port employers and the STWU knew how important this would be for the new union, and the STWU knew it was under pressure to achieve a decent agreement for dockworkers.

Both the SDU and STWU held separate one-day strikes. But realizing that it would not win the right to sign collective agreements without a serious fight, the SDU began an indefinite strike in late April 1974. While the SDU was out, the STWU signed an agreement which gave dockers a pay rise six times that of agreements signed by other unions that same year. After 19 days, SDU members reluctantly voted to return to work. While the SDU’s strike helped all dockworkers obtain substantial pay rises, the union was left without its own agreement with the port employers.

The SDU fought again for a separate agreement in 1980. An indefinite strike began on May 13, but the strike was soon wracked by the traditional divide between the smaller, more conservative and generally northern ports and the larger militant ports such as Stockholm and Gothenburg in the south. One small port refused to go on strike and another opted to do limited work. While dockworkers in the major ports in the south fought on, other northern SDU departments started trickling back to work.

After six weeks on strike, June 12 saw SDU dockworkers return to work. Dockers had won decent wage rises, but the SDU was again unable to secure its own separate agreement with the employers.

International solidarity

Around the world, the SDU is perhaps best known for its one-week blockade of Israeli shipping in June 2010 after commandos stormed the Gaza Freedom Flotilla a month earlier. But the union’s track record of international solidarity action runs much deeper than this.

Within two years of its formation, the SDU took action against the Chilean military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. In the autumn of 1974, the SDU refused to unload any Chilean copper for one whole month. On March 1, 1976, the SDU launched a three-month blockade of all Chilean imports to Sweden, and exactly one year later, the SDU launched another three month blockade, this time stopping Chilean imports to Sweden and Swedish exports to Chile.

In 1985, the SDU targeted the apartheid regime in South Africa. For all of September, the union refused to unload any South African goods. However, on September 8, 1985, STWU members broke this blockade when volunteers called in for weekend overtime unloaded South African goods in the port of Helsingborg. While many STWU members supported the apartheid blockade, it is believed that STWU leaders urged local delegates and others to unload the cargo, a decision fueled in part by continuing rivalry between the SDU and STWU.

From July 1996, the SDU took weekly industrial action in support of the sacked Liverpool dockers which left all Atlantic Container Line and CAST containers immobilized on Swedish docks for 24 hours at a time.

This tradition of international solidarity still continues today. One recent example is the 24 hour blockade in Gothenburg in May 2012 held in a show of support for striking dockers in Tilbury outside of London.

While internationalism seems to come easy for the SDU, becoming part of an international network of transport workers has proved more difficult.

When the SDU tried to join the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) in 1974, the STWU stood in its way. The STWU leaned on a “national sovereignty clause” in the ITF constitution which was first introduced in 1946 in the lead up to the Cold War. This clause gives existing ITF members in one country the power to stop other unions from that same country from affiliating. So when the SDU expressed its intention to apply for ITF affiliation, it was quietly told that there was no chance of the union being affiliated.

The SDU then became involved in attempts to build an international dockworkers network. A series of international meetings were held between 1978 and 1986, including one in Gothenburg in 1980. These efforts were revived after the defeat of the Liverpool dockers’ dispute in 1998. A conference held in Gothenburg in 1999 decided to establish the International Dockworkers Council (IDC), which was officially founded a year later.

With its vibrant member democracy and its record of militancy and international solidarity action, the Swedish Dockworkers’ Union continues to be both a thorn in the side of the port employers and an example for other workers. Nevertheless, the SDU does have its problems. It is still plagued by the divide between the smaller, more conservative ports mainly in the north and the larger militant ports of Stockholm and Gothenburg in the south. In its 45-year existence, the union is yet to win the right to sign a separate collective agreement with the port employers. And it proved unable to stave off the privatization that enabled APM Terminals win its port lease in Gothenburg in 2012. However, compared to other unions in the Swedish labor movement, the SDU is a breath of fresh air.

Tags: Swedish Dockworkers Union (SDU)strikePort of Gothenburg
Categories: Labor News

Pages

Subscribe to Transport Workers Solidarity Committee aggregator