Chicago ATU 241 Executive Board Member and Steward Erek Slater Wins Arbitration With Order To Be Returned To Work
Chicago ATU 241 Executive Board Member and Steward Erek Slater Wins Arbitration With Order To Be Returned To Work
On October 6, at the International Convention of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) in Toronto, Canada, I was informed that our union had won a return-to-work order with back-pay ruling regarding my termination as a 10-year Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) public bus driver.
On February 11, 2016, I was fired for insubordination for doing the work of defending my coworkers and defending our contract. Because I am a shop steward and elected Executive Board member of our union of over 10,000 working families, this was an attack on our entire union and it's long history.
However, the appointed managers of the CTA may unjustly appeal the ruling, like they did our $20M grievance for breaking our contract and overworking part-time workers as they laid off over 1,000 of us and massively cut public transit service during the “doomsday” cuts of 2011. This is still in the courts even though the CTA knows they cannot win. They would rather pay their lawyers (from the city budget they claim is bankrupt) to stall in order to use this as leverage in contract negotiations that are ongoing (our contract ended December 31, 2015). These managers may also drag out negotiations for the "make whole" ruling among other dirty tricks. All these delay tactics harm our working class communities.
Let's keep the pressure on to return to work (with all back pay and benefits) our hundreds of unjustly fired transit workers. Let’s continue to fight for a massive expansion of public transportation (and other social needs) where thousands of unemployed workers are hired for front-line jobs at union-scale pay and benefits.
The broader struggle is far from over, but I want to take this time to publicly thank some of the many organizations and hundreds of people who directly contributed to this partial victory. I hope workers in struggle will communicate with the organizations, read the websites, look at the pictures and watch some of the videos below. We have a lot to learn from each other.
I would like to thank… (in no particular order)
My partner, family members and friends who supported us in so many ways.
The unionists and coworkers who bravely spoke to the press on CTA property in uniform on the day I was illegally fired. (video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5jaBcpHZGc). I would also like to thank the 2nd Vice President of ATU 241 and the VP of ATU 308 (CTA rail workers) for speaking out at that press conference.
The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) (http://www.ctunet.com), The Fight for 15 (and a union) (http://fightfor15.org) along with over 100 mostly immigrant workers who demonstrated in front of our bus garage as part of the April 1 Day of Action (pictures, video and links: https://www.facebook.com/erekslater/posts/10209666922692113).
Our 1st, 2nd and 3rd Vice Presidents as well as my fellow steward at North Park CTA bus garage for defending me at the discipline hearings. I would like to thank our 1st VP and my fellow steward at North Park garage as well as many other coworker volunteers for trying to hold back the attacks against our working conditions while management repeatedly called the police to have me removed from our bus garage (picture: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10209295769533516&set=a.14509749...). There are only two “part-time” stewards at our garage of over 600 working families – it’s an impossible situation that harms workers, our families and the riding public.
My coworkers at North Park bus garage and the other nine CTA and PACE suburban bus garages. Thank you for all the phone calls and petitions. Thank you for coming to and leading all the organizing/action meetings. Thank you for your tactical and strategic thinking and advice. Thank you for being the eyes and ears of the union while management kept us off property.
Our ATU International President and his staff for posting a link to one of our press statements on our international website (http://tinyurl.com/hxwkqrj).
The dozens of official statements and resolutions of support from all over the world and hundreds of written statements of support from individual unionists and worker leaders. The Confederation of Trade Unions, Seoul Regional Council, and The Korean Federation of Public Services and Transportation Workers Unions for their statement and pictures of support (https://www.facebook.com/erekslater/posts/10209204957063261). The International Transit Workers Conference Against Privatization in Brazil which voted for a resolution supporting the case (https://www.facebook.com/erekslater/posts/10210490402678598, video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dU9NXdy5WmE). The International Network for Solidarity and Struggle (http://laboursolidarityandstruggle.org/site_english/) and the International Workers League (http://litci.org/en/) for their organization of international support. The Partisan Defense Committee who published and distributed a call for solidarity (http://www.partisandefense.org/…/2016-03-11_chicago-atu.html) and asked their contacts to make a principled, non-sectarian stand on this case. Facts for Working People who also published a letter of support (http://weknowwhatsup.blogspot.com/…/defend-erek-slater-atu-…).
Black Youth Project 100 (http://byp100.org/) and Black Lives Matter for speaking publicly in support (video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqQ8Z53pemQ) and joining our organizing meetings. Public transit passenger advocacy groups and IMPROVE (https://www.facebook.com/impruve?pnref=about.work) and other para-transit justice fighters who joined our public actions and spoke out.
The many public transit passengers who called, emailed and exhorted the CTA to reverse their attacks. [see previous posts]
The Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE) (http://www.coreteachers.org) for drafting and passing a resolution in support (https://www.facebook.com/erekslater/posts/10209151562128421), creating an online petition (http://petitions.moveon.org/…/defend-erek-slater-reinstate.…) and speaking out at each of our press conferences. I would also like to thank the many individual coworkers and activists that donated their time and money to writing press releases as well as designing, printing and distributing fliers.
The executive board members of ATU 241 for supporting several of our motions to attempt to mobilize our unions. I would also like to thank our 3rd Vice President and all the maintenance workers of CTA and PACE suburban and their leaders for supporting us during several critical membership votes.
The dozens of transit workers from around North America at the Labor Notes conference, who passed the hat and donated over $700 to help our family make it through this difficult period (https://www.facebook.com/erekslater/posts/10209629490476331, twitter: https://twitter.com/erek_slater/status/717052923125993472).
The volunteer social-justice lawyers who donated a considerable amount of their time and expertise. I would also like to thank the union lawyers who represented the union during arbitration and filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge.
The Transport Workers Solidarity Committee, (https://transportworkers.org/) for their public reports. Work Week Radio who published a radio interview (https://soundcloud.com/…/ww2-15-16-chicago-fired-atu241-ex-…). United Public Workers for Action (http://www.upwa.info/) and the Labor Video Project
(http://www.laborvideo.org) for videos (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTIy1OEOAgs&feature=youtu.be) and reports on this struggle. I would also like to thank Labor Beat video [http://www.laborbeat.org/] for editing, producing and distributing factual pro-worker, pro-union videos about this and related struggles that have gone around the world.
Please share this post so others can learn from it.
Teamster Bus Drivers Ratify First Contract With Durham In Florida Santa Rosa Three-Year Legal Fight Ends With Three-Year Contract
Teamster Bus Drivers Ratify First Contract With Durham In Florida Santa Rosa Three-Year Legal Fight Ends With Three-Year Contract
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Oct 15, 2016, 20:06 ET
SANTA ROSA, Fla., Oct. 15, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Teamster bus drivers and monitors at Durham School Services in Santa Rosa County, Fla. voted overwhelmingly, 85-1, in favor of their first agreement with the company.
This agreement, reached on Oct.8, 2016, is a victory for these workers, who voted overwhelmingly to form a union with the Teamsters in February 2013. For more than three years, Durham refused to recognize the results of the secret ballot election conducted and certified by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) – the federal agency charged with overseeing US labor laws.
Durham went to extraordinary measures to fight the certification but lost every appeal with the agency. The NLRB sued the company for violating federal labor law and in June 2016, Durham was finally forced to recognize the workers choice to form a union, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled in favor of the NLRB. The court ordered Durham to recognize the union election results and bargain with the workers.
"This is truly a remarkable day but it's unfortunate it took us more than three years and a ruling from the second highest court in the US to get here," said Jim Gookins, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 991 in Mobile, Ala. "I credit the resolve of school bus drivers and monitors for Santa Rosa who stood together through all the appeals to make sure their voices would be heard. It is encouraging to know that when Durham's corporate management decided to comply with the law that we were readily able to negotiate a fair agreement in a short period of time. That's how the process should work and shows what can be accomplished when both parties work together toward a common goal."
"This contract means a major improvement in quality of life for me and my family," said Kim McLaughlin, a 9-year driver at Durham and a bus driver for more than 20 years. "After three years of fighting Durham to respect our right to a union, we finally have our rights protected by a legally binding union contract and a due process procedure so the company cannot arbitrarily discriminate against us. I am proud to be a Durham driver with Teamster power on my side."
"It is a major step up for these workers," Gookins said. "I want to thank all of our negotiating committee members, all of the Teamster members and staff that assisted supported the Santa Rosa workers fight for a fair and just contract."
This agreement contains an average wage increase of 20 percent for drivers, adds four paid holidays by the third year of the contract and a ratification bonus and commits the company to 75 percent coverage for health care costs for members and their families. The contract will take effect immediately and expires on July 31, 2019.
The Teamsters' Drive Up Standards campaign is a global campaign to improve safety, service and work standards in the privatized school bus and transit industry. Since the campaign began in 2006, more than 46,000 drivers, monitors, aides, attendants and mechanics have become Teamsters. For more information on the Drive Up Standards campaign, go to www.driveupstandards.org.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.
Galen Munroe, (202) 439-7427
NY state deems 2 ex-Uber drivers employees, not contractors
Miami Herald Oct. 13, 2016
NY state deems 2 ex-Uber drivers employees, not contractors
BY ULA ILNYTZKY Associated Press
NEW YORK -- Two former Uber drivers are eligible for unemployment benefits after the state labor department determined they were employees, not independent contractors as the company says, an advocacy group announced Thursday.
"This is a historic victory," New York Taxi Workers Alliance executive director Bhairavi Desai said at a news conference in front of state Department of Labor offices in Manhattan.
The alliance filed a lawsuit over the summer on behalf of Levon Aleksanian and Jakir Hossain after they complained their claims for unemployment were not being reviewed. Independent contractors cannot collect benefits.
Uber, which is based in San Francisco, is appealing the labor department's determination. It said that drivers, as employees, would lose the personal flexibility they now enjoy.
"Nearly 90 percent of drivers say the main reason they use Uber is because they love being their own boss," it said. "Drivers use Uber on their own terms; they control their use of the app along with where and when they drive. As employees ... they would have set shifts, earn a fixed hourly wage and be unable to use other ridesharing apps."
The alliance said it was calling on the labor department to audit Uber so all drivers could be deemed employees, qualifying them for unemployment benefits.
In a statement, the agency said it "continues to independently examine the wider issue of whether to classify drivers for rideshare services like Uber as employees or independent contractors."
"Unemployment determinations are made on a case-by-case basis and, depending on the facts, decisions have been made supporting both drivers as employees and drivers as independent contractors," it said.
Hossain, who was also determined to be an employee of the ride-hailing company Lyft, began receiving benefits last week.
Aleksanian and a third driver, Jeffrey Shepherd, who was not part of the lawsuit but is seeking the alliance's help, attended the news conference.
Shepherd, who worked for Uber for about a year, said sometimes his paycheck was as little as 50 cents after working an entire week because Uber took car payments out of his paycheck.
"I had to depend on my 75-year-old father to support me," he said.
Alliance staff member Zubin Soleimany said the alliance is "looking forward to seeing this not being addressed as a one-off, case-by-case basis that puts the burden on the driver to fight and litigate through a hearing every time they need these benefits."Tags: UberContractorsNY State LawContracting outemployees
German Airline Bosses and Capitalists Shocked By Sickout In TUIfly Wildcat Strike-Sickout: collective sick party as revolt of the lower middle class
German Airline Bosses and Capitalists Shocked By Sickout In TUIfly Wildcat Strike-Sickout: collective sick party as revolt of the lower middle class
TUIfly: Successful sickout shocked transport sector
Published on 13 October 2016 of redaktion01 - No Comments ↓
To the background of the wild strike by disease Employees reach 3 years job guarantee FAZ and WiWo
What is a historical event is often difficult to measure for contemporaries. In the case of wildcat strikes, which took place from 3 to 7 October 2016 in the German aviation, but we can now already be sure that he has made history.
On Monday, October 3, 2016 a disease shaft broke at pilots, flight attendants and ground staff holiday airman TUIfly, which included 450 to 500 employees in the next few days and not only led to 2,000 days of illness, but also to a complete suspension of air traffic on the line. In American is this variety of wild strikes "sickout"; The word is also common in German aircraft.
The TUIfly Sickout came to a painful point: national holiday long weekend, the start of the autumn holidays in North Rhine-Westphalia. The airline was not prepared in any way for this response and responded helplessly. Tens of thousands of tourists sat on Mallorca firmly and at German airports, chaos was huge, threatening a wave of compensation claims swindled tourists.
The starting point of the strike was reportedly the online portal Vielfliegertreff.de (1) of the Hannover Airport, where TUIfly has its homebase, it spread in the following days to Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Berlin-Tegel and Hamburg (2) . Besides TUIfly and Air Berlin and Euro Wings were affected. Moreover TUIfly Airmail night flying leads for the German Post AG by. (4)
Paradoxical situation: TUIfly negotiates with uninvolved parties
<320px-Stewardess_circa_1949-50_American_Overseas_Flaghip_Denmark_Boeing_377_Stratocruiser.jpg>Although this was an illegal, spontaneous action, which, logically, took place without a leader and contact person, negotiations with the works council and the supervisory board of TUIfly took place at the end of the strike week.Through its supervisory board mandates ver.di were and the pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) on board, but not the Independent Flight Attendant Organisation (UFO). (17) UFO distanced itself though also clearly of the form of struggle of Sickout but expressed extensive understanding of the worries the sick colleague: "who does not have a clear head, which can not fly," said UFO chief Nicoley Baublies was a quote from the mDR. (18)
The the conflict equally uninvolved Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt (CSU) and his Lower Saxon counterpart Olaf Lies (SPD) intervened.
The Sickout could be mitigated by far-reaching commitments: workplace guarantees and inventory protection for three years are in place. We will have to observe what becomes concrete.From 10 October 2016 onwards, air traffic should again be free of disturbances.
Austria as a German-speaking wage dumping paradise
TUIfly supervisory board chairman Henrik Homann had unleashed the wave of strikes by a callous announcement on 30 September 2016th Not only the content brought his staff up the wall - TUIfly should be placed with the Austrian Air Berlin subsidiary Niki Luftfahrt GmbH together systematically undercuts the German rates - and the style caused discontent. A ver.di representative spoke of "secret negotiations". To clean up of excess capacity in air traffic TUIfly will be integrated into a new umbrella holding with the Air Berlin-Etihad major shareholder. TUIfly is already closely linked to the crisis-shaken Air Berlin by leasing contracts, the maintenance, insurance and crew of 14 jets.
According to ver.di, Niki subdues the wages of Tuifly by more than 20 percent. Pioneered the development of Austria as a German-language wage dumping paradise was Lufthansa, the Austrian Airlines (AUA) took to this end of 2009. (16) A brutal price war among European low cost is driven forward for years from all of Ryanair. (19)
Strike bans in the transport sector require unusual measures
The wildcat strike at TUIfly is also a response to successful trials of labor law expert Thomas Ubber (law firm Allen & Overy), unions like UFO and cockpit by court strike bans, damages and changes in the law to break the bargaining unit. Ubber represents an industry syndicate with Air Berlin, Lufthansa, DB, Fraport and others.
For Fraport, Ubber on 26.7. 2016 obtain a spectacular BAG ruling against the union of air traffic controllers (GdF) (1 AZR 160/14), the strike of February 2012 due to little things for illegally declared (10) . Furthermore, because the highest employment court decided that the GdF had to pay damages, the small trade union (4,000 members) was threatened with its existence. There are more than € 5 million in the room!
The competition between the independent UFO and ver.di for sovereignty in the Flyers has fueled the conflict: So tried ver.di on 10/01/2016, oust the annoying rival Air Berlin through unilateral conclusion of a collective agreement for all 2,600 employees (15 ) . Because UFO was not involved in these discussions, the Tariff Commission drew loud Branchenportal airliners.de from 04.10.2016 to sue in consideration. (9)
Entrepreneur press foams: unworthy + asocial! Self-interest !!
The German establishment responded to the TUIfly Sickout 2016 shocked and undecided. Read value is a helpless fluctuating tirade FAZ-business editor Corinna Budras from 10.09.2016 entitled "Collective absenteeism is asocial". On one hand, it recognizes the form of struggle of the flight crew as a "civil disobedience" on the other hand it rushes in a completely exaggerated, yes uninhibited choice of words: "unworthy, illegal, anti-social, moral decline". (14)
Handelsblatt leaves attorney Frank-Karl Heuchemer (law firm White & Case) to speak to foment among potential imitators fear, sick leave may have termination without notice the effect. (5) The Mirror headline, however in the opposite direction: "Collective sick leave are a clever means ". (7)In the Wirtschaftswoche let Ruediger Kiani-Kress occur an anonymous pilots talking doll, allegedly by" "rambled with TUIfly:" grandfathering "and" privileges is all done out of pure self-interest. ". (8 ) also this pearl of quality journalism falls into the category "embarrassing, predictable entrepreneurs propaganda". She probably could not have recovered a single stewardess and no pilot.
Sickout: collective sick party as revolt of the lower middle class
The wild strike by mass media reports is generally untypical for the German trade union culture, but this does not apply to employees in the transport sector and the public sector. The US author Mark Hamill wrote in April 1969, an influential essay in which he characterized the phenomenon of "sickout" as part of a "revolt of the white lower middle class". Initially, the action form became popular among policemen as "blue flu" and firefighters as "red rash".
On May 18, 1969, PATCO, the US air traffic controllers' union, successfully began experimenting with this campaign, which was intended to perfect the "sickout" of the 1970s. (6) The systematic destruction of PATCO by the Reagan Administration is therefore not surprising in its historical retrospect. The Union Busting Maneuver began with a press conference on August 3, 1981 when Ronald Reagan gave an ultimatum to 13,000 striking PATCO air traffic controllers. Those who did not return to work within 48 hours would be fired and never get a job in the public sector again. And so it actually came. Reagan sacked 11,345 strikes with the help of a forgotten emergency pact from the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 and smashed the union whose leaders were temporarily detained. The defeat of PATCO applies as the start of the systematic grinding of union bastions and labor rights in the United States ( "The day the Middle Class died", Michael Moore). (11)
Already in 1973, the Sickout camp had also arrived in West Germany - by rifled air traffic controllers, which they used hand-in-hand with the method of the "stroll" (service according to regulation). Der Spiegel headlined in July 73: "? Pilots strike - dictatorship of specialists" (12) The Federal Court banned such forms of action in Germany with a judgment of 01.31.1978 (Az. VI ZR 32/77) as immoral and threatened unions henceforth draconian damages . (13)
Conclusion: Impressive reaction to disinhibited union busting
The history of the workers' movement teaches that employees who are deprived of adequate legal possibilities of representation and conflict management can at some time resort to other methods. That it would come just in wirtschaftsfriedlich trimmed Germany to such a fast, massive and also successful reaction, should give the entrepreneur stock difficult to think. Maybe the Union Busting screw is tightened so tightly that the thread rolls hollow.
The text was published in highly abbreviated form in the newspaper Junge Welt of 10.13.2016 .
(6) Joseph A. McCartin: Collision Course. Ronald Reagen, the Air Traffic Controllers and the Strike. Oxford University Press 2011, chapter: "New Vectors"
(7) http://www.spiegel.de/karriere/tuifly-mitarbeiter-melden-sich-krank-ist-... , career levels, 10/06/2016
(12) http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-41972566.html , 09/07/1973
TUIfly: Erfolgreiches Sickout schockt Transportbranche
Veröffentlicht am 13. Oktober 2016 von redaktion01 — Keine Kommentare ↓
Zu den Hintergründen des wilden Streiks durch Krankheit | Beschäftigte erreichen 3 Jahre Jobgarantie | FAZ und WiWo hetzen
Was ein historisches Ereignis ist, lässt sich für Zeitgenossen oft nur schwer ermessen. Im Fall des wilden Streiks, der vom 3. bis 7. Oktober 2016 im deutschen Luftverkehr stattfand, können wir uns allerdings heute schon sicher sein, dass er Geschichte geschrieben hat.
Am Montag 3. Oktober 2016 brach eine Krankheitswelle bei Piloten, Flugbegleitern und Bodenpersonal des Urlaubsfliegers TUIfly los, die in den folgenden Tagen 450 bis 500 Beschäftigte umfasste und nicht nur zu 2.000 Krankheitstagen führte, sondern auch zur kompletten Einstellung des Flugverkehrs der Linie. Im Amerikanischen heißt diese Spielart des wilden Streiks “sickout”; das Wort ist auch in deutschen Flugzeugen geläufig.
Das TUIfly-Sickout geschah zu einem schmerzhaften Zeitpunkt: Nationalfeiertag, verlängertes Wochenende, Beginn der Herbstferien in Nordrhein-Westfalen. Die Airline war auf diese Reaktion in keiner Weise vorbereitet und reagierte hilflos. Zehntausende Touristen saßen auf Mallorca fest sowie an deutschen Flughäfen, das Chaos war riesig, eine Welle von Schadensersatzforderungen geprellter Urlauber droht.
Ausgangspunkt des Streiks war laut Berichten des Online-Portals Vielfliegertreff.de (1) der Flughafen Hannover-Langenhagen, wo TUIfly seine Homebase hat, er breitete sich in den folgenden Tagen nach Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Berlin-Tegel und Hamburg aus (2). Neben TUIfly waren auch Air Berlin und Eurowings betroffen. Zudem führt TUIfly Luftpost-Nachtflüge für die Deutsche Post AG durch.(4)
Paradoxe Situation: TUIfly verhandelt mit Unbeteiligten
<320px-Stewardess_circa_1949-50_American_Overseas_Flaghip_Denmark_Boeing_377_Stratocruiser.jpg>Obwohl es sich um eine illegale, spontane Aktion handelte, die logischerweise ohne Anführer und Ansprechpartner stattfand, kam es am Ende der Streikwoche zu Verhandlungen mit Betriebsrat und Aufsichtsrat von TUIfly, die am Ausstand formell überhaupt nicht beteiligt waren. Durch ihre Aufsichtsratsmandate waren ver.di und die Pilotengewerkschaft Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) an Bord, nicht aber die Unabhängige Flugbegleiter Organisation (UFO).(17) UFO distanzierte sich zwar ebenfalls deutlich von der Kampfform des Sickout, äußerte aber weitreichendes Verständnis für die Sorgen der erkrankten Kollegen: “Wer den Kopf nicht frei hat, der darf nicht fliegen”, ließ sich Ufo-Chef Nicoley Baublies vom mdr zitieren.(18)
Die am Konflikt gleichermaßen unbeteiligten Verkehrsminister Alexander Dobrindt (CSU) und sein niedersächsischer Amtskollege Olaf Lies (SPD) intervenierten.
Das Sickout konnte durch weitreichende Zusagen eingedämmt werden: Arbeitsplatzgarantien und Bestandsschutz für drei Jahre stehen im Raum. Man wird beobachten müssen, was daraus konkret wird. Ab dem 10. Oktober 2016 soll der Flugverkehr wieder störungsfrei verlaufen sein.
Österreich als deutschsprachiges Lohn-Dumping-Paradies
TUIfly-Aufsichtsratschef Henrik Homann hatte die Streikwelle durch eine kaltschnäuzige Ankündigung am 30. September 2016 losgetreten. Nicht nur der Inhalt brachte seine Angestellten auf die Palme – TUIfly sollte mit der österreichischen Air Berlin-Tochter Niki Luftfahrt GmbHzusammen gelegt werden, die deutsche Tarife systematisch unterbietet – auch der Stil sorgte für Unmut. Ein ver.di-Vertreter sprach von “Geheimverhandlungen”. Zur Bereinigung von Überkapazitäten im Flugverkehr soll TUIfly in eine neue Dachholding mit dem Air Berlin-Großaktionär Etihad integriert werden. TUIfly ist bereits jetzt durch Leasing-Verträge, die Wartung, Versicherung und Besatzung von 14 Jets umfassen, eng mit der krisengeschüttelten Air Berlin verbunden.
Nach Angaben von ver.di unterbietet Niki die Löhne von Tuifly um mehr als 20 Prozent. Vorreiter bei der Erschließung von Österreich als deutschsprachiges Lohndumping-Paradies war die Lufthansa, die zu diesem Zweck 2009 die Austrian Airlines (AUA) übernahm.(16) Ein brutaler Preiskampf unter europäischen Billigfliegern wird seit Jahren vom allem von Ryanair voran getrieben.(19)
Streikverbote im Transportsektor erfordern ungewöhnliche Maßnahmen
Der wilde Streik bei TUIfly ist auch eine Reaktion auf erfolgreiche Versuche des Arbeitsrechtlers Thomas Ubber (Kanzlei Allen & Overy), Gewerkschaften wie UFO und Cockpit durch gerichtliche Streik-Verbote, Schadensersatzforderungen und Gesetzesänderungen zur Tarifeinheit zu brechen. Ubber vertritt mit Air Berlin, Lufthansa, DB, Fraport und anderen de facto ein Branchen-Syndikat.
Für Fraport konnte Ubber am 26.7. 2016 ein spektakuläres BAG-Urteil gegen die Gewerkschaft der Fluglotsen (GdF) erwirken (1 AZR 160/14), das einen Streik vom Februar 2012 wegen Kleinigkeiten für illegal erklärte (10). Weil das oberste Arbeitsgericht zudem entschied, die GdF müsse Schadensersatz leisten, ist die kleine Gewerkschaft (4.000 Mitglieder) in ihrer Existenz bedroht. Im Raum stehen über 5 Mio. €!
Auch die Konkurrenz zwischen der unabhängigen UFO und ver.di um die Hoheit in den Fliegern hat den Konflikt befeuert: So versuchte ver.di am 1.10.2016, die lästige Rivalin bei Air Berlin durch einseitigen Abschluss eines Manteltarifvertrag für sämtliche 2.600 Beschäftigte auszubooten (15). Weil UFO an diesen Gesprächen nicht beteiligt wurde, zog deren Tarifkommission laut Branchenportal airliners.de vom 4.10.2016 in Erwägung zu klagen.(9)
Unternehmer-Presse schäumt: Unwürdig + asozial! Eigennutz!!
Das deutsche Establishment reagierte auf das TUIfly-Sickout 2016 geschockt und unschlüssig. Lesenswert ist eine hilflos schwankende Tirade der FAZ-Wirtschaftsredakteurin Corinna Budrasvom 9.10.2016 mit dem Titel “Kollektives Krankfeiern ist asozial”. Einerseits erkennt sie die Kampfform des Flugpersonals als “zivilen Ungehorsam” an, andererseits hetzt sie in einer völlig überzogenen, ja enthemmten Wortwahl: “unwürdig, illegal, asozial, Verfall der Sitten”.(14)
Das Handelsblatt lässt Anwalt Frank-Karl Heuchemer (Kanzlei White & Case) zu Wort kommen, um unter potentiellen Nachahmern die Angst zu schüren, Krankmeldungen könnten fristlose Kündigungen zur Folge haben. (5) Der Spiegel titelte hingegen in die entgegengesetzte Richtung: “Kollektive Krankmeldungen sind ein schlaues Mittel”.(7) In der Wirtschaftswoche ließ Rüdiger Kiani-Kreß einen anonymen Piloten als Sprechpuppe auftreten, der angeblich von “Besitzstandwahrung” und “Privilegien” bei TUIfly schwafelte: “Das alles geschieht aus purem Eigennutz.”.(8) Auch diese Perle des Qualitätsjournalismus fällt in die Kategorie “peinliche, vorhersehbare Unternehmer-Propaganda”. Sie dürfte keine einzige Stewardess und keinen Piloten gesund gemacht haben.
Sickout: Kollektives Krankfeiern als Revolte der unteren Mittelklasse
Der wilde Streik durch Massenkrankmeldungen ist für die deutsche Gewerkschaftskultur im Allgemeinen untypisch, was aber nicht für Beschäftigte im Transportsektor und im öffentlichen Dienst gilt. Der US-Autor Mark Hamill schrieb im April 1969 einen einflussreichen Aufsatz, in dem er Phänomen des “sickout” als Teil einer “Revolte der weißen unteren Mittelklasse” charakterisierte. Zunächst wurde die Aktionsform unter Polizisten als “blue flu” (blaue Grippe) und Feuerwehrmännern als “red rash” (rote Krätze) populär.
Am 18. Mai 1969 begann die US-Fluglotsengewerkschaft PATCO erfolgreich mit dieser Kampfform zu experimentieren, sie sollte das “sickout” in den 1970ern perfektionieren.(6) Die systematische Zerschlagung von PATCO durch die Reagan-Administration verwundert daher im historischen Rückblick nicht. Das Union Busting-Manöver begann mit einer Pressekonferenz am 3. August 1981, in der Ronald Reagan 13.000 streikenden PATCO-Fluglotsen ein Ultimatum stellte: Wer nicht binnen 48 Stunden zur Arbeit zurück kehrte, würde gefeuert und nie wieder einen Job im öffentlichen Dienst bekommen. Und so kam es tatsächlich. Reagan entließ auf einen Schlag 11.345 Streikende mit Hilfe eines vergessenen Notstandsparagraphen aus dem Taft-Hartley Act von 1947 und zerschlug die Gewerkschaft, deren Führer zeitweilig in Haft kamen. Die Niederlage von PATCO gilt als Startschuss für das systematische Schleifen von Gewerkschaftsbastionen und Arbeitsrechten in den USA (“The day the Middle Class died”, Michael Moore). (11)
Bereits 1973 war die Kampfform des Sickout auch in Westdeutschland angekommen – durch renitente Fluglotsen, die sie Hand in Hand mit der Methode des “Bummelstreiks” (Dienst nach Vorschrift) einsetzten. Der Spiegel titelte im Juli 73: “Lotsenstreik – Diktatur der Spezialisten?”(12) Der Bundesgerichtshof verbot solche Aktionsformen in Deutschland mit einem Urteil vom 31.1.1978 (Az. VI ZR 32/77) als sittenwidrig und bedrohte Gewerkschaften fortan mit drakonischen Schadensersatzforderungen. (13)
Fazit: Beeindruckende Reaktion auf enthemmtes Union Busting
Die Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung lehrt, dass Beschäftigte, denen angemessene legale Möglichkeiten der Interessenvertretung und Konfliktführung genommen werden, irgendwann zu anderen Methoden greifen. Dass es ausgerechnet im wirtschaftsfriedlich getrimmten Deutschland zu einer derart schnellen, massenhaften und zudem erfolgreichen Reaktion kommen würde, dürfte dem Unternehmerlager schwer zu denken geben. Möglicherweise ist die Union Busting-Schraube inzwischen so fest angezogen, so dass das Gewinde hohl rollt.
Der Text erschien in stark gekürzter Form in der Tageszeitung junge Welt vom 13.10.2016.
(6) Joseph A. McCartin: Collision Course. Ronald Reagen, the Air Traffic Controllers and the Strike. Oxford University Press 2011, Kapitel: “New Vectors”
(7) http://www.spiegel.de/karriere/tuifly-mitarbeiter-melden-sich-krank-ist-... , Karriere-Spiegel, 6.10.2016
(12) http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-41972566.html , 9.7.1973
(15) http://www.stern.de/wirtschaft/news/neuer-manteltarifvertrag-kabinen-bes...–air-berlin-einigt-sich-mit-verdi-7084132.html , 1.10.2016TUIfly Wildcat StrikeGerman Airline WorkersWildcat strike
Unions at Germany’s TUIfly airlines act as strikebreakers
By Ulrich Rippert
14 October 2016
The pilots, flight attendants and ground crew of Germany’s TUIfly airline are putting up fierce resistance to a restructuring plan accompanied by extensive layoffs and a severe deterioration in working conditions.
While management proceeds ruthlessly against them, the workers, as in many other conflicts, are faced with the problem that the trade unions stand on the side of the company. They work closely with management and have conspired with them against the workers.
Immediately before TUI board chairman Henrick Homann announced the details last week of the company’s far-reaching restructuring plans, with devastating consequences for the workers, trade union representatives signed their names to a new collective agreement. In doing so, they ended the no-contract conditions in which strikes are legally permitted and created a “contract peace” in which industrial action is forbidden.
The workers reacted furiously. As the trade union functionaries opposed their call for action, the workers resorted to self-defence. They organized a spontaneous “sick-out strike,” in which they called in sick on short notice and in large numbers. The effects were considerable. The action showed the power the workers have when they break through the bureaucratic control of the trade unions. Management was completely surprised and could not organize replacement crews. Flights were cancelled by the dozens, and last Friday, TUIfly temporarily ceased all air traffic.
The trade union leadership was just as taken aback as management. The former head of the Independent Flight Attendant Organisation (Ufo), Nicoley Baublies, now the head of IG Luftverkehr (IGL), attacked the workers and their sick-out action. “That is definitely not a means of labour struggle for us,” Baublies told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
But that was not enough. The trade unions immediately took the initiative of organizing a strikebreaking operation. A joint “Ad-hoc Crisis Agreement” with the Air Berlin airline company reads: “Air Berlin has come to an agreement with the Cockpit Organization, the Ver.di bargaining commission Cabin and the general works council to implement emergency measures with the aim of stabilizing air traffic …”
This was followed by a joint appeal from management, the union and works council to oppose the sick-out strike. The statement reads: “A large number of Air Berlin flights operating under a wet-lease agreement with TUIfly have also been affected by the extensive TUIfly cancellations. In light of this, Air Berlin, together with the Cockpit Organization, the Ver.di bargaining commission and the general works council, calls on pilots, flight attendants and ground personnel to take part in special operations on a voluntary basis.”
Unions have often sabotaged and stalled strikes and protest actions. But seldom before have they so openly and brutally stabbed their own membership in the back while operating as strikebreakers.
Despite this, the strike action had significant consequences. TUI personnel chief Elke Eller found herself compelled to quickly issue a statement saying TUIfly would remain “a German company based in Hannover” for the next three years. Labour and wage agreements would be valid until then, she promised. But such promises are worth nothing. This is not a legal binding agreement, nor is it clear whether, or in which form, TUIfly will even exist in three years.
Although the spontaneous strike action has been thwarted, the unrest among workers remains. “It is seething at TUIfly,” writes the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).
To prepare for the struggles ahead, it is necessary to draw a balance sheet of past experiences. An assessment of the trade unions is of central importance. Without breaking free from the straitjacket of the unions, it is impossible to lead a successful struggle to defend jobs and social standards.
The Ver.di and VC functionaries defend themselves, saying they were fooled by management and taken by surprise. But this is a lie. Nine leading functionaries at Ver.di, Cockpit and the works council sit on the company’s supervisory board, and three of them belong to its executive committee. They are involved in all strategy debates and restructuring plans of management. The unions and the company works council are not only informed from the beginning about such decisions, but even submit their own restructuring plans for job cuts while agreeing to keep the peace.
Since 2014, there has also been a roundtable at company headquarters in Hannover which can be summoned on short notice. One could hardly imagine the collaboration of trade unions, works councils and management to be closer or more intimate. It is just this close partnership that encourages management to carry out ever more intense attacks on workers. The board of directors considers the unions and works councils as an important instrument for the enforcement of its interests and plans. That is why the shock and concern in the boardroom was so great in recent weeks. The unions and works council temporarily lost control and the workers acted independently.
The close partnership between management, the works council and union means that the interests of workers can only be defended against, and not with, the unions and councils.
In this context, it is important to take a more precise look at the so-called employee representatives on the supervisory board. Ver.di functionary and chairman of the company’s works council Frank Jakobi is deputy chairman of the supervisory board and a member of the presidium. According to the company’s 2014-15 financial statements, he received €222,300 for his work on the supervisory board. Andreas Barczewski sits on the supervisory board and presidium representing the Cockpit organization. In the last year, he was paid €192,600.
Altogether, the work of the nine union representatives on the supervisory board has been compensated with €1.13 million. For Jakobi and Barczewski, that means more than €15,000 per month in addition to lavish works council salaries. Naturally, they all claim to pay the majority of their fees to the unions. But that does not improve matters. Rather, it confirms that the unions are funded in large part by the companies themselves through their supervisory boards.
Basing themselves on this collaboration, TUIfly plans a massive restructuring and the formation of a new “leisure airline” which is, above all, geared toward drastically reducing personnel costs through job and wage cuts. In the end, no one knows what will remain of TUIfly, writes the FAZ. Together with the beleaguered Air Berlin and its major shareholder Etihad from the United Arab Emirates, TUIfly is to be integrated into a holding in which current pay scales will no longer apply.
Two weeks ago, the Air Berlin board of directors announced they would lay off 1,200 workers as part of a “strategic reorientation” of the company.
The new holding is to include 60 aircraft, 20 from the Austrian Air Berlin sister company Niki and 40 from TUIfly. The travel company TUI as well as Air Berlin majority owner Etihad will each keep one quarter of the shares. According to press reports, the majority will rest with an Austrian foundation.
The FAZ cites an internal newsletter in which TUIfly employees expressed their concern and outrage. “TUIfly salaries will sink to the levels of Niki, which are approximately half as much. Or the entire workforce will simply be gotten rid of.”
To fight against this, it is necessary to oppose the logic of the capitalist profit system and take up an international socialist perspective. The restructuring of TUIfly and Air Berlin is part of a European-wide and international development which is not confined to the airline industry. Workers everywhere are confronted with the fact that the globalization of production is being used to enforce cost reduction measures in the form of layoffs, wage cuts and the degradation of working conditions
MA Lawmakers attack privatization at the MBTA "James O’Brien, president of the ATU Boston Carmen’s Union, which represents most of the workers in the cash collection department, described the outsourcing as an attack on families." “This isn’t going to sto
MA Lawmakers attack privatization at the MBTA "James O’Brien, president of the ATU Boston Carmen’s Union, which represents most of the workers in the cash collection department, described the outsourcing as an attack on families." “This isn’t going to stop with T employees,” he said.
JOHN TLUMACKI/THE BOSTON GLOBE
Kevin Lewis (front, center) and other MBTA workers listened to Democratic lawmakers during a rally outside Faneuil Hall in Boston on Wednesday.
By Nicole Dungca GLOBE STAFF OCTOBER 12, 2016
State Senator Marc Pacheco called on lawmakers Wednesday to go back into session to prevent more outsourcing at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, a year after legislators gave the agency more latitude to privatize its services.
Governor Charlie Baker’s administration last year successfully lobbied lawmakers to suspend the so-called Pacheco law, which restricts the state government from outsourcing jobs. But in light of the MBTA’s recent move to privatize its cash collection department, Pacheco said the Legislature should reverse its stance.
“If we had enough members that wanted to sign onto a letter to request that we wanted to go back into the session before the end of the year, and straighten this out, it can be done,” said Pacheco, a sponsor of the law that limited privatization. “We need a two-thirds vote because we know it will be vetoed, but we can do it.”
Pacheco, a Taunton Democrat, spoke at a pro-union rally at Faneuil Hall, where he was joined by a host of union leaders and Democratic lawmakers. They were flanked by giant, inflatable animals conveying pro-union messages — a “fat cat” choking a worker in a hard-hat and a menacing pig dressed in a suit.
Last week, the MBTA’s fiscal control board awarded Brink’s, a Virginia-based company, a five-year, $18.7 million contract to operate the cash collection department, a move that will save an estimated $8.6 million the first year. The department has been considered poorly run for years.
MBAT moves to private cash-counting jobs
“We’re confident we’ll not only save money, but have a better level of service,” acting GM Brian Shortsleeve said Wednesday.
More than 70 union workers are expected to lose their jobs, although they would be offered bus driving positions.
On Wednesday, union officials and lawmakers criticized the deal. Some pointed out that Shellie Crandall, the consultant hired by the MBTA to analyze the cash collection department, had worked extensively for both Brink’s and GardaWorld, the two companies that bid for the contract.
“Does that pass the smell test?” Steven Tolman, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, asked the crowd in a booming voice.
The crowd answered no, and cheered.
Joe Pesaturo, an MBTA spokesman, defended its outsourcing process.
“All of the rules and laws pertaining to a public bidding process were followed to the letter,” he said.
Facing a wide budget gap, the MBTA is also looking to privatize its warehousing department along with bus maintenance and driver positions.
James O’Brien, president of the Boston Carmen’s Union, which represents most of the workers in the cash collection department, described the outsourcing as an attack on families.
“This isn’t going to stop with T employees,” he said.
O’Brien and several other union leaders were arrested last week in a protest over the outsourcing.
US Representative Stephen Lynch echoed O’Brien’s comments, saying he has seen the situation play out in other cities.
“It’s not good for consumers, it’s not good for the citizens of Massachusetts, and it’s certainly not respectful to the workers of Massachusetts,” Lynch said.
Nicole Dungca can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @ndungca.Tags: ATU Boston Carmen’s UnionprivatizationMTBA
Korean Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co DSME to Cut 24% of Workforce Amid Mounting Losses
Korean Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co DSME to Cut 24% of Workforce Amid Mounting Losses
Korean DSME to Cut 24% of Workforce Amid Mounting Losses
October 12, 2016 by Bloomberg
DSME Shipyard South Korea
Ships under construction at the DSME shipyard in South Korea. Photo credit: Lappino
By Kyunghee Park
(Bloomberg) — Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., the world’s second-largest shipbuilder, plans to eliminate 3,000 jobs, or 24 percent of its workforce, this year as part of a restructuring plan to improve its financials.
Daewoo is receiving applications for a voluntary retirement program until Oct. 21, the Geoje, South Korea-based company said an e-mailed statement Wednesday. The company had 12,699 employees on its payroll at the end of June. Including contract workers, the company employs about 40,000 people.
Daewoo Shipbuilding, Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. and Samsung Heavy Industries Co., the world’s three biggest shipyards based in South Korea, are all reducing capacity, cutting jobs and selling assets amid a plunge in orders for offshore drilling units and ships. The shipyards posted losses last year and are struggling with mounting debt after a slide in oil prices prompted oil companies to slash spending and cancel or postpone projects.
Daewoo Shipbuilding expects about 1,000 employees to participate in the voluntary program, it said. The company is also planning to transfer about 2,000 workers into a new company, the statement said without elaborating. The Maeil Business Newspaper reported the job cuts earlier Wednesday.
Daewoo Shipbuilding had said in June that it plans to cut 30 percent of its employees and capacity. Earlier this year, the shipbuilder sold two of its five floating docks and reduced salaries to save money.
Korea Development Bank and Export-Import Bank of Korea, two key creditor banks of Daewoo Shipbuilding, pledged in October last year to provide 4.2 trillion won ($3.7 billion) in loans and equity. Korea Development Bank is also the shipbuilder’s biggest shareholder.Tags: Korean shipbuilding workersDaewoo Shipbuilding
Free Korean Jailed Trade Unionists! Solidarity Rally For Korean Truckers Strike At San Francisco Korean Consulate
Free Korean Jailed Trade Unionists! Solidarity Rally For Korean Truckers Strike At San Francisco Korean Consulate
October 12, 2016 was an international day of solidarity for the over 50 jailed trade union truck drivers at Truck-SOL and other trade unionists and union leaders who have been jailed by the Korean government. The striking truckers are fighting deregulation and union busting.
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Initiated by United Public Workers For Action
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Uber Drivers Ruled Eligible for Jobless Payments in New York State
By NOAM SCHEIBER
OCT. 12, 2016
Uber drivers in a staged strike in Long Island City, Queens, in February. CreditKevin Hagen for The New York Times
Two former drivers for Uber are eligible for unemployment payments, New York State regulators have ruled, finding that they should be treated as employees rather than independent contractors, as the company has maintained.
Unlike contractors, employees are entitled to a variety of rights and protections, including a minimum wage and workers’ compensation insurance, and are typically more costly for companies to rely on.
The decision could make it more difficult for Uber, its rival Lyft and other new businesses operating in what is known as the gig economy by raising their costs and challenging their business model.
The rulings by the New York State Department of Labor were sent to the two Uber drivers (one also worked for Lyft) in August and September but have not previously been reported. They apply only to their unemployment insurance claims and do not directly affect other drivers or extend to other protections normally accorded employees.
But worker advocates say they plan to pressure the state to extend the logic of the unemployment rulings to other areas.
“I think this is a game-changer,” said Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which filed a federal lawsuit with the two drivers in July to force the Labor Department to make a determination in their cases. “Uber has depended on the political structure turning a blind eye. What these decisions do is force a microscopic review” of drivers’ employment status by elected officials and government agencies.
It is not clear how far the advocates will be able to push the ruling. Tiffany Portzer, a spokeswoman for the New York Labor Department, said: “Unemployment determinations are made on a case-by-case basis and, depending on the facts, decisions have been made supporting both drivers as employees and drivers as independent contractors.”
State regulators recently deemed a third driver who is a member of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance to be a contractor after he filed an unemployment claim. The labor group said it was because of his confusion in filling out the necessary paperwork. It is asking for a hearing and reconsideration of his case to reverse the decision.
Uber said that drivers were contractors who “would lose the personal flexibility they value most” if they were classified as employees.
“While the Department of Labor has ruled that several drivers are independent contractors, we have appealed the other determinations,” the company said in a statement.
California has deemed at least two Uber drivers eligible for jobless benefits, but has found others to be independent contractors. The determinations have not led Uber to recast its relationship with drivers in the state.
The New York cases could prove problematic for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who in 2015 aligned himself with Uber in helping to beat back a temporary cap on the number of licenses New York City would issue for cars affiliated with ride-hailing companies.
In February, after one of the two Uber drivers recently deemed eligible for unemployment benefits checked on the status of his claim, a state supervising Labor Services representative told him by email that Uber claims are “under executive review, which means the Department of Labor is not making the decision whether or not this employment is covered,” hinting at possible intervention by the governor’s office.
Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo, denied any intervention, saying that the senior ranks of the Labor Department had reviewed the Uber claims. Mr. Azzopardi declined to comment on the broader issue of the employment status of drivers.
New York State has a Joint Enforcement Task Force empowered to examine issues related to the misclassification of workers, which reports annually to the governor, and Mr. Cuomo could be called upon to wade into the debate.
The New York Taxi Workers Alliance argued that Uber’s control over drivers participating in its low-cost service, Uber X — the major question in resolving employment status — is similar to the control that many black-car dispatching services exert over their drivers, who in many cases have previously been ruled eligible for jobless benefits in New York.
Some of the ride-sharing cases probably will end up in New York State’s appellate courts, said Gary D. Friedman, a management-side employment lawyer at Weil, Gotshal in New York. Mr. Friedman said that if the courts, in clarifying the relevant portions of New York common law, find that many Uber drivers are employees for the purposes of receiving unemployment insurance, this could affect other areas, like application of minimum wage laws.
The New York unemployment case is not the only recent decision on whether online on-demand workers like Uber drivers are employees or contractors. Last Thursday, the National Labor Relations Board office in Chicago formally issued a complaint, which a board representative said was the first of its kind, against Postmates, an on-demand delivery platform, over allegations that Postmates impeded workers’ ability to exercise their labor rights.
In issuing the complaint, which The New York Times obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, the board’s lawyers had to first conclude that Postmates couriers are employees, since the agency’s mandate does not extend to independent contractors.
The N.L.R.B. is investigating several charges by individuals against Uber and Lyft.
The two former Uber drivers in New York, Levon Aleksanian and Jakir Hossain, waited for months after they filed unemployment benefit claims for a determination about their eligibility, a process that normally takes a few weeks.
They filed a federal lawsuit against the state Labor Department in late July, and during the next two months each finally received what is known as a Monetary Benefit Determination stating they were employees of Uber — a necessary but not sufficient condition for receiving benefits.
The department subsequently granted benefits to Mr. Hossain, who has received them retroactively. But Mr. Aleksanian, who said he ran up thousands of dollars in debt during months of unemployment, has still been denied benefits because of the circumstances of his separation from Uber. He is appealing the decision.
“It was a very scary moment,” Mr. Aleksanian said of his initial separation. “Until recently, I didn’t have any employment. I was applying continuously every day, but I couldn’t find anything.”Tags: UberUnemployment benefits
Korean KPSTU Truckers Fight Deregulation, Union Busting & Repression
Korean union truckers who are members of the Korean Public Service and Transportation Union KPSTU are fighting against deregulation, repression and union busting. Over 50 members have been arrested and an international day of support is being organized on October 12, 2016. Wolsan Liem, a representative of the union talks about their conditions, issues and struggle on 10/12/16 from Seoul, Korea.
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Korean Public Service & Transportation Union
KPFA Pacifica WorkWeek Radio
Production of Labor Video Project
The American Way President Obama promised to fight corporate concentration. Eight years later, the airline industry is dominated by just four companies. And you’re paying for it.
The American Way
President Obama promised to fight corporate concentration. Eight years later, the airline industry is dominated by just four companies. And you’re paying for it.
by Justin Elliott, ProPublica
October 11, 2016
THREE YEARS AGO, the Obama administration unleashed its might on behalf of beleaguered American air travelers, filing suit to block a mega-merger between American Airlines and US Airways. The Justice Department laid out a case that went well beyond one merger.
“Increasing consolidation among large airlines has hurt passengers,” the lawsuit said. “The major airlines have copied each other in raising fares, imposing new fees on travelers, reducing or eliminating service on a number of city pairs, and downgrading amenities.”
The Obama administration itself had helped create that reality by approving two previous mergers in the industry, which had seen nine major players shrink to five in a decade. In the lawsuit, the government was effectively admitting it had been wrong. It was now making a stand.
Then a mere three months later, the government stunned observers by backing down.
It announced a settlement that allowed American and US Airways to form the world’s largest airline in exchange for modest concessions that fell far short of addressing the concerns outlined in the lawsuit.
The Justice Department’s abrupt reversal came after the airlines tapped former Obama administration officials and other well-connected Democrats to launch an intense lobbying campaign, the full extent of which has never been reported.
They used their pull in the administration, including at the White House, and with a high-level friend at the Justice Department, going over the heads of staff prosecutors. And just days after the suit was announced, the airlines turned to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s first White House chief of staff, to help push back against the Justice Department.
Some lawyers and officials who worked on the American-US Airways case now say they were “appalled” by the decision to settle, as one put it.
“It was a gross miscarriage of justice that that case was dropped and an outrage and an example of how our system should not work,” said Tom Horne, the former state attorney general of Arizona, one of seven states that were co-plaintiffs with the federal government.
As a candidate in 2007, President Obama pledged to “reinvigorate antitrust enforcement,” calling that the “American way to make capitalism work for consumers.” Hillary Clinton has recently made similar promises.
But the reversal in the American-US Airways case was part of what antitrust observers see as a string of disappointing decisions by the Obama administration.
“I hoped they would be much more aggressive and much more concerned about increasing concentration and ongoing predatory conduct,” said Thomas Horton, a former Justice Department antitrust attorney now at University of South Dakota law school. “Too often they really took the business side.”
Obama’s antitrust enforcers have been somewhat more aggressive than the Bush administration in challenging mergers. But that has come in the face of a record-breakingwave of often audacious deals. Nor has the Obama administration brought any major cases challenging companies that abuse their monopoly power. It approved three major airline mergers, for example, leaving four companies in control of more than 80 percent of the market.
In the American-US Airways case, Emanuel emerged as one of the deal’s biggest champions. He was in regular contact with the CEOs and lobbyists for both airlines.
“The combination of American Airlines and US Airways creates a better network than either carrier could build on its own,” Emanuel wrote in an October 2013 letter to the Justice Department that other mayors signed onto. “American’s substantial operations throughout the central United States provide critical coverage where US Airways is underdeveloped.”
The letter was an uncanny echo of the airlines’ arguments – for good reason: It was actually written by an American Airlines lobbyist, emails obtained by ProPublica show.
The day after sending the missive, as government lawyers were racing to prepare for trial, Emanuel lunched with the CEOs of American and US Airways at a suite in the St. Regis hotel in Washington. The next stop on his schedule: the White House, for meetings with President Obama and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. Later that day, Emanuel met with Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, whose agency also had a hand in reviewing the merger. (The White House and Department of Transportation declined to comment on the meetings.)
A letter signed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel praising the deal was actually written by an airline lobbyist. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Meanwhile, the airlines dispatched another valuable asset: An adviser on the deal, Jim Millstein, was both a former high-level Obama administration official at Treasury and a friend of Deputy Attorney General James Cole, the No. 2 at the Justice Department.
Millstein said Cole told him that the government was open to settling the case – a position at odds with the Justice Department’s public stance. The two spoke about the case on social occasions, such as “after finishing a round of golf,” Millstein said in an interview.
The five meetings and phone calls between Millstein and Cole – all within two months in late 2013 – shocked Justice Department staff attorneys who worked on the case, with one describing them as a sign of “raw pressure and political influence.” Cole declined to comment in detail, but said in a statement that “nothing inappropriate occurred.”
As Millstein and Emanuel pressed the administration, the airlines spent $13 million on a phalanx of super-lobbyists, including Heather and Tony Podesta, to marshal support in Washington, records show. Another Democratic lobbyist, Hilary Rosen, also reached out to the White House.
There’s no direct evidence that the lobbying worked. The Justice Department denies the pressure affected its decision-making and the White House said it was not involved. “DOJ enforcement decisions are made independently,” a White House spokesperson said in a statement. “The White House does not play a role in those decisions.”
But the abrupt move to settle was met with a backlash among the team building the case, according to interviews with four lawyers and officials who worked on the case.
“We were astonished,” said an official from one state that joined the federal lawsuit. “They were getting a lot of pressure and all of a sudden they just said, ‘We’re going to walk away from this.’”
Some Justice Department staff attorneys who built the case against the merger were dismayed when they were summoned by a superior to a conference room at the Antitrust Division’s Judiciary Square offices and told the case was done.
“People were upset. The displeasure in the room was palpable,” said one attorney who worked on the case. “The staff was building a really good case and was almost entirely left out of the settlement decision.”
Indeed, government investigators had uncovered documents showing airline executives crowing about how mergers allow them to charge travelers more. “Three successful fare increases – [we were] able to pass along to customers because of consolidation,” wrote Scott Kirby, who became the president of the new American Airlines, in a 2010 internal company presentation.
Economists say it’s difficult to prove definitively effects of a merger, and there’s been no comprehensive study of the American-US Airways deal. Still, there are signs that the concerns the government voiced in its lawsuit have become a reality.
While the price of fuel – one of airlines’ biggest expenses – has plummeted by as much as 70 percent in the last two years, the industry has kept most of those savings for itself. Fares went down by just 4 percent in 2015 as U.S. airlines made record profits of nearly $26 billion. That’s in contrast to Europe, where the industry is significantly less concentrated and there is intense competition.
The combined company, which operates as American Airlines, has steadily increased feessince the deal, one of the harms the Justice Department warned of three years ago. So-called Main Cabin Extra seats, for example, which went for an additional $8 to $159 in 2013, now cost an extra $20 to $280.
Earlier this year, American also eliminated a discount fare program before bringing it back on “selected routes.” The rollback of the program was another thing the government had predicted.
Wall Street has cheered the effects of the deal. A 2014 Goldman Sachs analysis about “dreams of oligopoly” used the American-US Airways merger as an example. Industry consolidation leads to “lower competitive intensity” and greater “pricing power with customers due to reduced choice,” the analysis said.
In a statement, American Airlines said the merger had “delivered significant benefits to customers, employees and communities” including by creating new flight options. It said it has upgraded its fleet and is “investing $3 billion to improve our customers’ experience in the air and on the ground.” (Read the full statement.)
In the biggest concession of the settlement, American Airlines had to divest some takeoff and landing rights from Reagan National in Washington and LaGuardia in New York. A DOJ official, made available by the department on condition of anonymity, said the agency believes the divestitures have allowed lower-cost carriers like JetBlue and Virgin America to compete in these markets.
“Our general sense based on the information we have is that the divestitures have had a positive impact,” the official said.
Yet just a year and a half after insisting the settlement would increase competition, the Justice Department in 2015 launched an investigation into possible collusion among the remaining carriers to restrict the number of flights in order to hike ticket prices.
That was another harm the government suit had warned about: “This Merger Would Increase the Likelihood of Coordinated Behavior.”
The investigation is ongoing.
A century ago, amid fears that concentrated corporate power would subvert American democracy, Congress passed a law that prohibited anti-competitive mergers.
“Unless their insatiate greed is checked, all wealth will be aggregated in a few hands and the Republic destroyed,” warned the 1900 Democratic platform of monopolies, echoing the Republican platform that year.
Though the antitrust laws were created in the days of Standard Oil and railroad monopolies, regulators in the modern era have long had concerns about the airline industry.
For decades, the federal government directly regulated fares and routes. Amid runaway inflation in the late 1970s, the industry was deregulated on the theory that market forces would produce lower prices and more efficiency. Still, the father of deregulation, economist Alfred Kahn, argued the new market needed strong antitrust enforcement to preserve the benefits of competition that deregulation was supposed to produce.
The enforcement Kahn envisioned never materialized. The Reagan administration introduced new merger guidelines that were much friendlier to combinations of large corporations. Under the mantra “Bigness Isn’t Badness,” the Justice Department Antitrust Division became much more receptive to claims that efficiencies resulting from mergers outweighed any bad effects.
In the airline industry, despite occasional interventions by antitrust authorities over the years, the number of companies has dropped sharply through dozens of mergers.
Even unconstrained by much antitrust enforcement, airlines have endured as many busts as booms. Their propensity to lose money led Warren Buffett to quip, “If a capitalist had been present at Kitty Hawk back in the early 1900s, he should have shot Orville Wright.”
The Sept. 11 attacks punctured a profitable period in the late ‘90s, pushing major airlines into a series of bankruptcies in which workers’ pay and benefits were slashed and companies’ debt was restructured.
The most recent wave of consolidation began in the mid-2000s. U.S. Airways joined with America West. Delta combined with Northwest. The Obama administration approved the mergers of United and Continental as well as Southwest and AirTran.
In an internal presentation uncovered by government investigators, a US Airways executive called industry consolidation the “New Holy Grail.”
An industry presentation celebrating mergers, which have allowed airlines to introduce new fees.
Publicly, airlines argued that combining networks would lead to greater choices and more efficiency for travelers, allowing them to fly on a single airline between previously disconnected cities.
“Consumer demand is the driver for this combination,” then-US Airways CEO Doug Parker told Congress while pushing the merger with American Airlines in early 2013. “Airline passengers want broader networks, capable of getting them to more places more efficiently.”
But sifting through millions of pages of airline documents, Justice Department lawyers and economists found evidence instead that airline executives coveted the market power that mergers could deliver.
“Consolidation has also helped with capacity discipline,” Scott Kirby, who became president of the new American Airlines, said at a conference in the run-up to the merger. “And it has allowed the industry to do things like ancillary revenues; again, hard to overstate the importance of that.”
Capacity discipline is an industry term for limiting the number of available seats or flights, which in turn allows for higher fares. Ancillary revenue — which has ballooned in recent years — comes from fees airlines charge for checked bags, different levels of seating, and food.
The government identified more than 1,000 routes in which American and US Airways competed head to head. The merger would significantly increase the level of concentration on those routes, which could lead to higher fares, the complaint argued.
“Three successful fare increases – [we were] able to pass along to customers because of consolidation,” wrote Scott Kirby, who became president of the post-merger American Airlines. (Laura Segall/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The Justice Department’s concerns were not just about prices. It was also worried that the American-US Airways merger would lead the combined company to reduce service or jettison plans for more routes.
Following previous mergers, airlines had cut hubs, especially in mid-sized cities away from the coasts. Such cuts could devastate already struggling communities.
“Surely these guys aren’t really planning to keep Cleveland open,” wrote Parker, now the American CEO, in a 2010 email to other executives, commenting on the pending merger between United and Continental. “I’m hopeful they’re just saying what they need to … to get this approved.”
United even signed an agreement with the state of Ohio designed to guarantee the airline’s commitment to Cleveland, which had been a Continental hub before the merger. But four years later, United did just what Parker predicted, slashing more than half of its flights from Cleveland. Delta made similar cuts in Cincinnati and Memphis after its merger with Northwest.
After studying the industry, government investigators also concluded that American Airlines and US Airways were well able to survive on their own. US Airways had reported record profits in 2012. American had managed to cut labor costs after declaring bankruptcy in 2011. It was during the bankruptcy process that US Airways executives had proposed a merger, but American executives initially resisted the idea, drafting a standalone plan they believed would lead to sustained profitability.
“There is no reason to accept the likely anticompetitive consequences of this merger,” the government’s complaint said. “Both airlines are confident they can and will compete effectively as standalone companies.”
Teams of lawyers and economists spent months in the run-up to the lawsuit dueling behind closed doors over whether the merger would benefit or harm consumers.
After the Justice Department filed its complaint in federal court in Washington, the judge quickly issued a protective order sealing much of the case. Such secrecy is common in antitrust cases because companies say they want to protect proprietary business information.
Still, a picture of the case emerges in documents obtained by ProPublica through public records requests and interviews with players on both sides.
The DOJ’s Antitrust Division assigned roughly 30 lawyers and economists to work on the case. They faced off against an “army” at least four times that size, one government lawyer recalled. The airlines assembled top antitrust attorneys from five separate law firms, virtually all of whom had previously worked as government antitrust enforcers.
American Airlines’ general counsel later estimated the company had spent $275 millionon outside lawyers for its bankruptcy and to defend the merger suit. That doesn’t include US Airways’ spending on the deal.
To handle the trial, the airlines hired Richard Parker of O’Melveny and Myers, a famously aggressive litigator and former high-ranking antitrust official at the Federal Trade Commission.
“I told you he wasn’t here to play around,” one government lawyer wrote in an email to a colleague the day the complaint was filed, after Parker arranged to come in to meet DOJ lawyers at 10 a.m. the next day.
The airlines also hired a team of over 30 economists from a consulting firm headlined by two academics who had previously done stints as the Justice Department’s chief antitrust economist.
The economists created complex models designed to demonstrate that the merger would, in fact, create wide-ranging benefits for flyers and actually increase competition.
The Justice Department’s economists created their own models, coming to the opposite conclusions. It’s impossible to compare the models as they remain under seal.
As the teams worked late nights and weekends in the mad dash to prepare for a November 2013 trial date, the airlines opened a second front against the lawsuit, working through political channels rather than legal ones.
The leadership of the Antitrust Division has long said it is insulated from political pressure and that cases are strictly law enforcement matters, but the airlines clearly felt differently.
At the center of the companies’ lobbying effort were high-profile Democrats particularly well positioned to influence the Obama administration.
Jim Millstein, the financial adviser on the deal who had left a high-level Treasury Department role in 2011, was dispatched “to assure the DOJ of our commitment to the consumer benefits we outlined in our case and our willingness to consider very significant concessions,” American Airlines said in a statement. Millstein had four in-person meetings, a phone call, and some email correspondence with his friend, Deputy Attorney General Cole.
Millstein said the first meeting, which came two weeks after the lawsuit was filed, was “maybe a 30 second conversation between us. The subsequent conversations were equally non-substantive, just my checking in with him at points when the settlement discussions seemed to have stalled to reiterate that my guys were serious about reaching a settlement.”
Working on behalf of his airline client, former Obama official Jim Millstein, right, reached out to his friend, Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole. (Alex Wong/Getty Images, Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The CEOs and lobbyists for both airlines were talking with Mayor Emanuel starting just six days after the lawsuit was filed up through the settlement, emails show.
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker called the letter from Emanuel and other mayors to the Justice Department, which Emanuel’s staff gave to Politico, “incredibly helpful” and one of the most important elements of the airlines’ pushback against the government.
The letter made a broad public interest argument, arguing for the deal “based on growth which benefits consumers and our communities.” But emails among Emanuel’s staff suggest he needed something from the airlines in return: help with a project to overhaul and update O’Hare International Airport.
One email refers to the mayor planning to seek “commitments” from the incoming American Airlines CEO at Emanuel’s lunch with him at the St. Regis in Washington. (The hotel meeting was first reported by the Chicago Tribune.)
It’s not clear what, if anything, Emanuel ultimately received in return for advocating for the American-US Airways merger. The city redacted portions of emails in which the mayor’s aides discussed the matter.
A spokesman for Emanuel declined to comment on the mayor’s conversations with the airline CEOs or on whether Emanuel raised the merger with Obama administration officials. “City officials wanted to ensure that the airline continued to be a good partner to the city, and that the residents of Chicago continued to benefit from the jobs and economic opportunities that the company provided,” the spokesman said.
A few months after the Justice Department settled its case, Parker and other American Airlines executives became first-time donors to the mayor, contributing $53,000 to his reelection campaign.
On Capitol Hill, American and US Airways hired both Democratic and Republican lobbying firms, and 183 members of Congress ultimately came out in favor of the deal.
Though one of American’s core arguments for the merger was that the company needed to grow to compete more aggressively with Delta and United, the chief executives of those companies came out in support of the deal and further industry consolidation.
A lobbyist for Airlines for America, the industry trade group, also pushed for it in settlement talks with Florida’s attorney general, emails show. Antitrust observers say the industry-wide support reflects the idea that, post-merger, reduced competition would benefit all airlines.
Organized labor often opposes mergers because the “efficiencies” touted by Wall Street can be a euphemism for job cuts. But in this case, US Airways executives won the backing of the American Airlines pilot, flight attendant, and mechanics’ unions in exchange for promises of better contracts.
Flight attendants union chief Laura Glading was the most active labor figure campaigning for the deal, crisscrossing the country to meet with editorial boards and state attorneys general who had joined DOJ’s suit. Appearing at a Capitol Hill rally in her flight attendant uniform, she offered a different perspective and image than the company executives in business suits.
Flight attendant union chief Laura Glading was a prominent advocate for the deal — and then went to work for the new airline, prompting accusations of “betrayal.” (Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram via AP Photo)
Hilary Rosen, one of the Democratic lobbyists working on the deal, later credited the union support with flipping the Justice Department.
While labor was the friendly face of the merger, Tom Horne, the former Arizona attorney general, who is now out of politics, said that he experienced an uglier side of the campaign.
Horne, a conservative Republican, invoked Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations in explaining why he joined the Obama administration in challenging the deal. Soon after the complaint was filed, Horne says his political consultant was told by a lobbyist that $500,000 would be spent on ads against Horne in his upcoming primary if he didn’t drop the suit.
A former Horne staffer gave the same account. The case was settled before the primary campaign got underway. American Airlines and the lobbyist denied they had threatened to attack Horne.
Horne said the promised political retribution shocked him. “Nothing remotely like that ever happened before or after,” he said. “I was in statewide office for 12 years.”
When the Justice Department moved to drop the case, Horne felt he could not continue to contest the merger on his own. His office didn’t have the resources to go up against two giant companies.
The first public indication that the Justice Department’s resolve was weakening came in early November, just three weeks before the trial was set to begin. Attorney General Eric Holder was asked about the case at an unrelated press conference. “We hope that we will be able to resolve this short of trial,” he said.
The comment caught many observers by surprise. One lawyer involved in the case called it “bizarre” for the attorney general to publicly signal his support for a settlement in the midst of negotiations.
Holder, now out of office and working at a law firm, declined to comment.
A week after Holder’s comments, the Justice Department announced it was dropping the case in exchange for modest concessions.
Antitrust observers were shocked at the gulf between the remedy and the concerns outlined in the original complaint.
Before the merger, the two airlines controlled more than two-thirds of all takeoff and landing rights at Reagan National Airport. The settlement required the combined company to give up less than 15 percent of the slots at the airport along with others at New York’s LaGuardia, which ultimately went to JetBlue and other airlines.
When the government filed its suit, the Department of Justice’s top antitrust official had been asked about the possibility of a settlement centering on Reagan National. He had dismissed it as insufficient. The airlines “want to fly where they fly without competition,” said Bill Baer. “This merger would facilitate that, regardless of whether you have an issue at Washington National or not.”
The first public indication that the Justice Department’s resolve against the merger was weakening came when Attorney General Eric Holder publicly said he hoped the case would settle. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Asked about why the government made the deal it did, a DOJ official told ProPublica, “We ultimately agreed to settle because they gave us what we and what our airline experts at the division believed was a very, very good settlement.”
In the three years since the DOJ settlement, American has slowly worked to integrate US Airways’ operations into its own. While that process still hasn’t finished, it’s possible to take some stock of what’s happened, both to the main players and to consumers.
The combined company has 10 percent more employees than it had at the time of the merger and the two companies’ CEOs, Doug Parker and Tom Horton, each received over $15 million in bonuses for completing the deal.
Glading, the flight attendants union chief who was the face of labor support for the merger, quit last year and went to work as a consultant for American, a move the union blasted as a “disgusting betrayal.” She’s since taken a job at the Federal Aviation Administration and did not respond to requests for comment.
The union launched an investigation into whether Glading cut side deals with the company and some members have called her support for the merger tainted.
The union of mechanics and ground workers recently came to an agreement with American giving its members a large pay raise. The pilots union, meanwhile, complainedin a letter to management earlier this year of “the rebirth of the toxic culture we fought so hard to eradicate.”
The post-merger American has increased fees across the board. The fee for a child traveling alone, for example, was $100 each way pre-merger. Today American charges $150, not only for children 11 and under as it did before, but also those aged 12 to 14.
The industry has been raising fees for a decade, so it’s difficult to say how the merger affected the rate of such increases. But American brought in $4.6 billion in ancillary revenue (fees and sales of frequent flyer miles) in 2014, well more than the $3.1 billion American and US Airways earned the year before the deal, according to the research firm IdeaWorks.
American has also overhauled its frequent flyer program to make it more difficult to earn miles, in line with the other remaining major carriers.
The Justice Department’s complaint predicted the merger would prompt the end of US Airways’ Advantage Fares program, which competed with other carriers’ lucrative nonstop routes by offering aggressively discounted one-stop options. The program allowed flyers to save hundreds of dollars on, for example, the Miami to Cincinnati route.
The two companies’ CEOs at the time of the merger — Tom Horton, left, and Doug Parker — each received more than $15 million for completing the deal. (Ben Torres/Bloomberg via Getty Images )
Sure enough, American Airlines killed the Advantage Fares program earlier this year before bringing it back on “selected routes where it makes business sense to do so.”
While pushing for the deal in 2013, economists hired by American projected that, by offering more and better route options, consumers would see $500 million in annual benefits from the deal.
American’s statement acknowledged the airline has not studied if these predictions have come true.
The company also said in a court filing that “thousands” of new routes would be created. Today, American says there are just 1,600. And it’s not clear these are routes many travelers actually want to fly.
“Markets such as Dubuque to Yuma that customers cannot get to on either American or US Airways today, they will now be able to connect efficiently on,” Parker, now the American CEO, said while touting the deal on Capitol Hill. “Those are real efficiencies that drive the majority of the synergies.”
A recent ticket search shows the new American does indeed offer service between Dubuque, Iowa, and Yuma, Arizona.
But all of the available flights involve two stops at hubs in Chicago and Phoenix and last at least eight hours. Almost no one seems to have flown that route.
According to a Department of Transportation database that includes a 10 percent sample of airline tickets, just five passengers have booked flights from Dubuque to Yuma in the years since the merger.
Have information about the airlines or another antitrust matter? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Justin Elliott is a ProPublica reporter covering politics and government accountability. To securely send Justin documents or other files online, please visit our SecureDrop site.
Special Hotline from APFA National President Marcus Gluth on "disgusting Betrayal"
Thursday, January 7, 2016
Special Hotline from APFA National President Marcus Gluth
Dear APFA Members,
I am writing to you this evening to inform you of a disgusting betrayal. Late yesterday, I confirmed with American Airlines Management that the Company has hired Laura Glading as a consultant. This is the ultimate display of disloyalty from a former APFA National President. I am sure that I speak for many of us when I express my complete outrage and disgust.
According to Management, Laura will be working on American Airlines’ behalf to advance the Company's interests in Washington. During conversations with American President Scott Kirby and General Counsel Stephen Johnson, they tried to convince us that this was "a good thing" for all Flight Attendants. They said that employees are fortunate to have an advocate like Laura in Washington. I do not agree at all. I believe Laura's new role may call into question certain actions she took as APFA National President. Laura can no longer be trusted to testify on behalf of the Union in a contract dispute or arbitration. She cannot even be called on for advice or guidance by future National Presidents. Everything is now tainted. This kind of behavior undermines the credibility of Union leaders. Union members must be one hundred percent confident that their leaders are always acting in their best interest. If not we will succumb to a corrosive and cynical atmosphere that will ultimately destroy the Union.
In order to address this serious problem swiftly and head-on, I am taking the following actions:
• I am launching an internal investigation into Laura's dealings as National President. An independent investigator will be selected to review files, conduct interviews, make determinations, and issue recommendations. This investigator will have no previous relationship with American Airlines, APFA, or any of APFA’s outside professionals. The goal of this investigation is to determine whether any quid pro quo was offered by the company and when.
• I am calling an emergency meeting of the APFA Board of Directors. I have spoken to each Board member individually and we have had discussions as a group via teleconference. Next week, we will meet in person to discuss various actions that can be taken to attempt to address this horrendous situation. Their guidance is crucial to bringing this situation to resolution.
Laura Glading exposed her actions – but American Management has demonstrated its complete lack of respect for our institution. By covertly hiring our former National President without any discussion or heads up, Doug Parker, Scott Kirby, Elise Eberwein and others at American headquarters have indicated once and for all that this management team cannot be trusted. As my tenure as APFA National President comes to an end on March 31st, I am going to dedicate all available resources to ensuring that nothing of this magnitude ever happens again.
APFA National President
Miami Flight Attendant
Korean Truck Drivers Begin Industrial Action as Rail Strike Enters its Third Week
Oct 10, 2016 | Labor and People's Struggles, SK News | 0 comments
By Wolsan Liem, Director of International and Korean Peninsula Affairs of the Korean Public Service and Transport Workers’ Union (KPTU)
On October 10 at 12am, South Korean truck drivers, members of the Korean Public Services and Transport Workers’ Union Cargo Truckers Solidarity Division (KPTU-TruckSol) began a national strike against the South Korean government’s plan for deregulation of the trucking transport market. The strike began as the strike of KPTU-affiliated railway and other public institution workers went into its fourteenth day.
Considerable tension has surrounded the dispute since TruckSol announced its intention to strike at a press conference on October 5. The government, stressing concerns about the combined impact of the truck and rail actions on freight transport, has announced plans for a stern crackdown. Measures include suspension of fuel subsidies for those who participate in the strike, as well as cancellation of drivers’ licenses and criminal charges for those who participate in or instigate ‘illegal actions’ such as blocking logistics hubs.
At the beginning of the day on October 10, some 6000 police were stationed near the Busan Port and at the Inland Container Deport in Uiwang, Gyeonggi Province. Only several hours after the strike began, the police swarmed protesting drivers at a rally at the Busan New Port. Three TruckSol members were arrested and two injured. Several more members were arrested later that evening.
The stern government response to the truck drivers’ strike comes in part because of their potential power and in part because of their precarious status as independent contractors. As ‘owner drivers’ or (‘specially-employed’ workers in Korean terminology), truck drivers are treated as independent contractors, not workers, and therefore denied the rights to form and join trade unions, collectively bargain and strike. Therefore, while KPTU accepts it as a full affiliate, TruckSol is not recognised as a legal union by the Korean government or employers.
The Conditions of ‘Owner Drivers’
Since last year, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and its affiliates have been fighting against a set of reforms that would make it easy for employers to fire workers, lower wages and restrict unions’ ability to bargain for their members. Public sector workers are currently in their third week of a national strike against the introduction of a performance-related pay and termination system. Although TruckSol members have participated in KCTU and KPTU actions, the demands are not entirely applicable to their situation. This is because they have never had job security, guaranteed wages or bargaining rights to lose in the first place.
Truck drivers are paid not a wage, but a ‘transport rate’ based on the cargo they haul and the distance they travel. Rates are set by large corporations who ship goods and subcontract the transport task to logistics intermediaries and transport companies down the supply chain. These intermediaries then re-contract the work to drivers. After intermediaries take their piece of that rate, truck drivers are left with what is often equivalent to less than the minimum wage. Truck drivers are now striking against a plan by the government that will allow for an oversupply of trucks, leading to competition and pushing rates down even further.
Low rates and demands of the companies at the top of the transport supply chain mean that truck drivers often feel forced into overloading, speeding and driving inhumanely long hours, just to be able to feed their families. These circumstances are harmful for truck drivers’ health and hazardous to the public at large. Nearly 1,200 people die on Korean roads as a result of truck crashes every year, an average of 3.2 people a day. A major concern for TruckSol is that truck drivers’ basic rights be guaranteed and that cargo owners and transport companies be required to enable drivers to work without the pressure to engage in unsafe driving practices.
Solidarity to Demand Safety before Profits
The truck drivers’ demands, although very different, do overlap with those of their relatively well-paid permanently-employed fellow transport workers in the rail industry. Both groups are fighting against unilaterally-imposed government policies that seek to increase competition among workers and put the goals of efficiency and profits before respect for human life and safety.
It remains to be seen how much their strikes will affect the economy. The government has brought in 800 replacement trucks and continues to hire new replacement rail workers to keep freight in circulation. Slowdowns have been minimal so far.
If the truck strike continues for several days, however, the impact is likely to grow. Moreover, if the action results in increased awareness about the dangers of the government’s policies, not only to workers but to the broader public, its social impact will be significant. And if it builds lasting solidarity between the low-paid ‘specially-employed’ truck drivers and the higher-paid permanently-employed public institution workers, this in itself will be an important victory.
By Wolsan Liem, Director of International and Korean Peninsula Affairs of the Korean Public Service and Transport Workers’ Union (KPTU)_______________________________________________
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