Labor News

Greek Privatization Sell off Of Country Including Ports and Railroads

Current News - Mon, 08/22/2016 - 06:19

Greek Privatization Sell off Of Country Including Ports and Railroads
El Pireo, el puerto deseado
La privatización del principal nudo de transportes de Grecia revela la dimensión estratégica del país
http://economia.elpais.com/economia/2016/08/19/actualidad/1471607874_360...
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Terminal de contenedores gestionada por Cosco en El Pireo.
Terminal de contenedores gestionada por Cosco en El Pireo. SIMON DAWSON GETTY
MARÍA ANTONIA SÁNCHEZ-VALLEJO

Container terminal managed by Cosco in Piraeus. SIMON DAWSON GETTY
MARIA ANTONIA SANCHEZ-VALLEJO

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20 AGO 2016 - 00:00 CET
The recent privatization of the state railway company of Greece, TRAINOSE (in its Greek acronym), sold for 45 million euros to the Italian Ferrovie dello Stato, has caused a political storm in the Hellenic country for the paltry amount that has been the transaction closed. Greek deficit and hobbled trains, which have survived thanks to the injection of public funds, were assessed in 2013 by the previous Greek government (conservative) in 300 million. So the opposition has taken over the executive Alexis Tsipras, who, with regard to privatization, has had to backtrack on nearly all his campaign promises and choose to cash, even at prices seemingly balance.
After the sale of Trainose two factors that partly explain why the cuts are. First, the urgent need for Athens to privatize goods and services for the sake of the third rescue (85.000 million, to three years) , which requires liquidate 50,000 billion in assets in 30 years. Secondly, but more strategic depth, also for the immediate survival of Greece, and for the transformation of its economic and ruined model is redesigning the map of road infrastructure. The goal is to turn the country into a major logistics center entry and distribution in Europe of Chinese goods and, by extension, Japanese and other Asians old tigers. Something that the new owner of the Greek railways can contribute much.
In this context the star protagonist is the giant Cosco (China Ocean Shipping Company), based in Hong Kong and owner a few months of the majority (67%) of shares in the Athens port of Piraeus ago, the largest European door of his great strategic initiative "a belt, a route", ie, the reissue of the legendary Silk Road ( "Maritime Silk Road of the century", according to Beijing denomination). This ambition to redesign and control much of the world trade map shows that the movements of Cosco, publicly owned, are not only business, but political.
71,000 GOODS TO PRIVATIZE
The background of Greek privatizations (TAIPED, its acronym in Greek) are seen and want them to place any of the thousands of goods, from beaches to islands through Olympic venues, historic buildings and golf courses, which must sell imposition of creditors; more than 71,000 publicly owned assets expect a good bidder, although judging by the star privatizations, achieve a pitch will work almost impossible. Since the signing of third save, one year imposed by this wild settlement ago, there have been only three major operations: the Trainose (45 million), which had not happened to Italian hands would have had to repay 750 million aid -a reason 50 million per year, considered illegal by the European Commission Competition; the Piraeus (368.5) and the most advantageous so far: the lease for 40 years the German company Fraport of 14 regional airports (including the popular tourist destinations) for 1,234 million euros. A fourth privatization, the old Athens airport Elliniko temporary -albergue for thousands of refugees, is closed, although an opinion of the Ministry of Culture on the alleged archaeological interest in the area can freeze the process.
The great strategic operation of China in the West does not stop in the vast grounds of Piraeus, a succession of kilometers of cranes, containers and silos rusty cargo that reach Perama, once thriving shipyard and now devastated by years of crisis. Although he did not have official confirmation, Cosco expects to have Ferrovie dello Stato to condition as a logistics center, 59 hectares of public land in Thriasio, west of Athens. With direct access to Piraeus and the Greek motorways, an investment of 250 million in the local it is expected to create a hybrid of large logistics hub and commercial center, in the style of Dragon Mart Dubai. From Thriasio, once upgraded rail links, goods arrivals to Greece through the Indian Ocean and the Suez Canal will be catapulted by rail to Central and Eastern Europe through the Balkans.However, the deadline for applications for the development of Thriasio closed on August 1 without challengers.
Present in Piraeus since 2008, Cosco only managed until this year , two cargo terminals. The results have been excellent : the trading volume of the same went from 166,000 TEUs (equivalent to a 20 - foot container unit, the standard measure in the maritime) transport in 2009 to three million in 2014; since 2010 it has quadrupled turnover. But the absolute majority in the shareholding of the port authority also allows you now have full control over the passenger terminal, which annually mobilizes millions of tourists and locals between the mainland and the islands, as well as a growing number of cruise ships. The Greek Parliament approved in July sale to the Chinese of Piraeus by 368,500,000 from among bitter protests, especially union, against low wages and poor working conditions in the docks. The compulsory composition of the new leadership also hurts the national pride of the 11 members, seven must be compulsorily Chinese people, including the president and CEO.
The recent visits of Chinese President Xi Jinping, several countries in the Balkans and Eastern Europe underline the strategic importance Beijing attaches to this part of the world, as the Greek-Balkan route saves time and money when flood the Old Continent their products. Although Cosco also has minority stakes (up to 35%) in the ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp and Marseille, control of Piraeus allow Asian companies to introduce their products in Europe with savings of between four and ten days compared to other ports Westerners.
Japan will also benefit from the privatization of Piraeus, as evidenced by the fact that every week moving three to four trains, each with 38 wagons, from Piraeus to Nitra (Slovakia), where Sony has a television factory that It provides Europe. Sony sources have stressed that thanks to the Chinese control the distribution of Piraeus is more fluid.
The logistics sector in Greece is one of the few business niches in the post-crisis landscape, according to research by McKinsey 2012. This lifesaver, even mortgaged to foreign interests, explains the good relations that Greece and China have developed in the last couple of years, judging by the frequency of visits by senior Greek Tsipras charges to Beijing, with the head and conversely, the official visit of Prime Minister Li Keqiang in 2014. "the Greek and Chinese economies complement each other well. Greece is accelerating privatizations and infrastructure construction, and China will push its creditworthy companies to develop a very active part in this process, "Li said then. As Yanis Dragasakis, economic Superminister of Tsipras, a part of the Greek recovery will come through increased investment in infrastructure he says. Against the traditional short-termism of the Greek economic plans, the ancient Chinese and ambiciosísima planning can be of great help.

19 AGO 2016 - 18:00 EDT
La reciente privatización de la compañía estatal de ferrocarriles de Grecia, TrainOSE (en sus siglas griegas), vendida por 45 millones de euros a la italiana Ferrovie dello Stato, ha provocado una tormenta política en el país heleno por la cuantía irrisoria con que se ha cerrado la transacción. Los deficitarios y renqueantes trenes griegos, que han sobrevivido gracias a la inyección de fondos públicos, fueron tasados en 2013 por el anterior Gobierno griego (conservador) en 300 millones. Por eso la oposición se ha echado encima del Ejecutivo de Alexis Tsipras, que, en lo tocante a las privatizaciones, ha debido desdecirse de casi todas sus promesas de campaña y optar por hacer caja, aun a precios aparentemente de saldo.

Tras la venta de Trainose se hallan dos factores que explican en parte el porqué de la rebaja. En primer lugar, la imperiosa necesidad de Atenas de privatizar bienes y servicios por mor del tercer rescate (85.000 millones, a tres años), que obliga a liquidar 50.000 millones en activos en 30 años. En segundo lugar, pero con mayor calado estratégico —también para la supervivencia inmediata de Grecia, y para la transformación de su arruinado modelo económico—, está el rediseño del mapa de infraestructuras viarias. El objetivo es convertir el país en un gran centro logístico de entrada y distribución en Europa de mercancías chinas —y, por extensión, japonesas y de otros antiguos tigres asiáticos—. Algo en lo que el nuevo dueño de los ferrocarriles griegos puede aportar mucho.

En este contexto el protagonista estelar es el gigante Cosco (China Ocean Shipping Company), con base en Hong Kong y dueño desde hace unos meses de la mayoría (67%) de acciones del puerto ateniense del Pireo, la puerta grande europea de su gran iniciativa estratégica "Un cinturón, una ruta", es decir, la reedición de la mítica Ruta de la Seda ("Ruta de la Seda Marítima del siglo XXI", según la denominación de Pekín). Esa ambición de rediseñar y controlar buena parte del mapa del comercio mundial demuestra que los movimientos de Cosco, de titularidad pública, no son solo empresariales, sino políticos.

71.000 BIENES PARA PRIVATIZAR
El fondo de privatizaciones heleno (TAIPED, en sus siglas en griego) se las ve y se las desea para colocar alguno de los miles de bienes, de playas a islas pasando por instalaciones olímpicas, edificios históricos o campos de golf, que debe vender por imposición de los acreedores; más de 71.000 activos de propiedad pública que esperan un buen postor, aunque, a juzgar por las privatizaciones estrella, lograr un pelotazo será labor casi imposible. Desde la firma del tercer rescate, hace un año, que impuso esta liquidación salvaje, sólo ha habido tres grandes operaciones: la de Trainose (45 millones), que de no haber pasado a manos italianas habría debido devolver 750 millones de ayudas –a razón de 50 millones al año-, consideradas irregulares por la comisión europea de Competencia; la del Pireo (368,5) y la más ventajosa hasta el momento: la cesión durante 40 años a la empresa alemana Fraport de 14 aeropuertos regionales (entre ellos, los de populares destinos turísticos) por 1.234 millones de euros. Una cuarta privatización, la del antiguo aeropuerto ateniense de Ellinikó —albergue temporal para miles de refugiados—, está cerrada, aunque un dictamen del Ministerio de Cultura sobre el presunto interés arqueológico de la zona puede congelar el proceso.

La gran operación estratégica de China en Occidente no se detiene en el vasto recinto del Pireo, una sucesión de kilómetros de grúas, herrumbrosos contenedores y silos de carga que llegan hasta Pérama, antaño pujante astillero y hoy devastado por años de crisis. Aunque no llegó a haber confirmación oficial, Cosco espera contar con Ferrovie dello Stato para acondicionar como centro logístico, 59 hectáreas de suelo público en Thriasio, al oeste de Atenas. Con acceso directo al Pireo y a las autovías griegas, se espera una inversión de 250 millones en el local para crear un híbrido de gran nudo logístico y centro comercial, al estilo del Dragon Mart de Dubái. Desde Thriasio, una vez modernizadas las conexiones ferroviarias, las mercancías llegadas a Grecia a través del Índico y el canal de Suez serán catapultadas por vía férrea a Centroeuropa y Europa oriental por los Balcanes. Sin embargo, el plazo de candidaturas para el desarrollo de Thriasio se cerró el 1 de agosto sin aspirantes.

Presente en el Pireo desde 2008, Cosco solo gestionaba hasta este año dos terminales de carga. Los resultados han sido excelentes: el volumen de operaciones de las mismas pasó de 166.000 TEUs (unidad equivalente a un contenedor de 20 pies, la medida estándar en el transporte marítimo) en 2009 a tres millones en 2014; desde 2010 se ha multiplicado por cuatro el volumen de negocio. Pero la mayoría absoluta en el accionariado de la autoridad portuaria también le permite ahora tener pleno control sobre la terminal de pasajeros, que cada año moviliza millones de turistas y locales entre el continente y las islas, así como un número creciente de cruceros. El Parlamento griego aprobó en julio la venta a los chinos del Pireo por 368,5 millones de en medio de agrias protestas, sobre todo sindicales, contra los bajos salarios y las malas condiciones de trabajo en los muelles. La composición, obligatoria, de la nueva dirección también hiere el orgullo nacional: de los 11 miembros, siete deben ser obligatoriamente chinos, incluidos el presidente y el director general.

Las recientes visitas del presidente chino, Xi Jinping, a varios países de los Balcanes y el este de Europa subrayan la importancia estratégica que Pekín otorga a esta parte del mundo, ya que la ruta greco-balcánica permite ganar tiempo y dinero a la hora de inundar el Viejo Continente de sus productos. Aunque Cosco tiene también participaciones minoritarias (hasta el 35%) en los puertos de Róterdam, Amberes o Marsella, el control del Pireo permitirá a las empresas asiáticas introducir sus productos en Europa con un ahorro de entre cuatro y diez días en comparación con otros puertos occidentales.

Japón también sacará provecho de la privatización del Pireo, como demuestra el hecho de que cada semana circulen de tres a cuatro trenes, cada uno de ellos con 38 vagones, desde el Pireo a Nitra (Eslovaquia), donde Sony posee una fábrica de televisores que provee a toda Europa. Fuentes de Sony han subrayado que gracias al control chino del Pireo la distribución es más fluida.

El sector de la logística en Grecia es uno de los pocos nichos de negocio en el paisaje poscrisis, según una investigación de 2012 de McKinsey. Esta tabla de salvación, aun hipotecada a intereses foráneos, explica las fluidas relaciones que Grecia y China han desarrollado en el último par de años, a juzgar por la frecuencia de las visitas de altos cargos griegos a Pekín —con Tsipras a la cabeza— y, a la inversa, el viaje oficial del primer ministro Li Keqiang en 2014. "Las economías griega y china se complementan bien. Grecia está acelerando las privatizaciones y la construcción de infraestructuras, y China empujará a sus solventes empresas a desarrollar una parte muy activa en este proceso", dijo Li entonces. Como dice Yanis Dragasakis, superministro económico de Tsipras, una parte de la recuperación griega vendrá por las crecientes inversiones en infraestructuras. Frente al cortoplacismo tradicional de los planes económicos griegos, la milenaria y ambiciosísima planificación china puede servir de gran ayuda.

Tags: privatizationportsrailroads
Categories: Labor News

Release The Video-Hands Off SF MTA TWU 250A Member Ramero and SF Muni Drivers In San Francisco

Current News - Sun, 08/21/2016 - 19:00

Release The Video-Hands Off SF MTA TWU 250A Member Ramero and SF Muni Drivers In San Francisco
https://youtu.be/kuAmw6FNGnQ
Supporters of public transit workers and public workers rallied at the San Francisco MTA on August 12, 2016 to demand that a video tape of a confrontation between MTA TWU 250A member Carla Ramero who was attacked and beaten by an irate motorist.
Speakers talked about the continual workplace bullying and terrorism against SFMuni TWU 250A members.
The MTA which has the tape turned it over the the SF Police Department which is sitting on it.
Dorian Maxwell and fired OSHA whistleblower at the SF MTA reported that he had received a CA Labor Commissioner order to go back to work but the MTA managers and Mayor Ed Lee have blocked his return to work. Other speakers discussed the racist component of this attack on the mostly Black and Latino drivers of the MTA. The union advised Ramero not to talk to the press and only called for the release of the tape after this rally was announced.
For more media:
Supporters of public transit workers and public workers rallied at the San Francisco MTA on August 12, 2016 to demand that a video tape of a confrontation between MTA TWU 250A member Carla Ramero who was attacked and beaten by an irate motorist.
Speakers talked about the continual workplace bullying and terrorism against SFMuni TWU 250A members.
The MTA which has the tape turned it over the the SF Police Department which is sitting on it.
Dorian Maxwell and fired OSHA whistleblower at the SF MTA reported that he had received a CA Labor Commissioner order to go back to work but the MTA managers and Mayor Ed Lee have blocked his return to work. Other speakers discussed the racist component of this attack on the mostly Black and Latino drivers of the MTA. The union advised Ramero not to talk to the press and only called for the release of the tape after this rally was announced.
The rally was sponsored by United Public Workers For Action
www.upwa.info
For more media:
http://www.sfexaminer.com/muni-operator-says-beaten-fended-off-attacker/
http://www.sfgate.com/news/bayarea/article/Advocacy-Group-Alleges-Muni-F...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zquP57iENNE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuW8sm383QM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLc5D-tgm5o
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mc0xTnBeCkA
http://www.sfexaminer.com/new-ad-campaign-promote-safety-muni-operators/
Production of Labor Video Project
www.laborvideo.org

Tags: TWU 250Aoshahealth and safetysolidaritySF MTA
Categories: Labor News

Chile: Over 500,000 Protest Pinochet's Private Pension System

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 08/21/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: TeleSUR
Categories: Labor News

Swaziland: Media workers protest conditions at king’s newspaper

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 08/21/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: NI
Categories: Labor News

No to Hillary OR Trump, says Painters Local 10-Portland Painters & Drywall Finishers Say: Break with the Democrats, For a Workers Party

Current News - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 23:06

No to Hillary OR Trump, says Painters Local 10-Portland Painters & Drywall Finishers Say: Break with the Democrats, For a Workers Party
https://nwlaborpress.org/2016/08/no-to-hillary-or-trump-says-painters-lo...
Aug 19, 2016 Politics
At the Aug. 17 general membership meeting of Portland-headquartered Painters Local 10, members passed a resolution saying the local does not support Democrats or Republicans, which “are and have always been strike-breaking, war-making parties of the bosses.” The resolution was introduced by Wyatt McMinn, vice president and chair of the union’s Volunteer Activist Committee. It passed unanimously.

Specifically, the resolution calls on the Painters international union to repudiate its earlier endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president, and it calls on the labor movement to break from the Democratic Party and build a “class- struggle workers party.” See the full resolution here.

Most unions on the national level have endorsed Clinton by now, including IUPAT, Local 10’s parent organization, and the national AFL-CIO has made defeating Donald Trump a priority.

Some national unions — like American Federation of Teachers and Service Employees International Union — were early and enthusiastic supporters of the Clinton campaign. Others — and the national AFL-CIO — waited until after the primary season had played out and Clinton had outpolled Bernie Sanders to clinch the nomination. International Association of Fire Fighters decided not to endorse either Clinton or Trump, after polling showed members were very sharply divided. And only one union has endorsed Trump. National Border Patrol Council, which represents 18,000 U.S. Border Patrol agents. That union is a division of American Federation of Government Employees, which itself endorsed Clinton December 10.

Painters & Drywall Finishers Say: Break with the Democrats, For a Workers Party
https://csw-pdx.org/2016/08/19/painters-drywall-finishers-say-break-with...

August 19, 2016
The following resolution was introduced by CSWP supporters and adopted unanimously by IUPAT Local 10 members at their meeting on 17 August 2016. CSWP fights to unchain the power of the working class by breaking our unions away from the parties of capital. Join us!

No Support to the Democrats, Republicans,
or Any Party of the Bosses

Whereas the bosses have two parties to represent their class while the millions of working people have none, and

Whereas the Democratic president Barack Obama sent the U.S. Coast Guard to enforce scabbing against the International Longshore and Warehouse Union during the 2013-14 lock-out of northwest dock workers, and

Whereas the Democratic governor Kate Brown opposed and undercut the movement for a $15 minimum wage across Oregon, and

Whereas in 2014 Democrats in Congress joined with Republicans to pass a disastrous pension “reform,” allowing the bosses to escape their obligations and cheat our retirees, and

Whereas the two presidencies of the Democrat Barack Obama have been eight years of unending war in the Middle East,North Africa and Asia, causing untold human suffering, millions of refugees, and attacks on our democratic rights at home, and

Whereas the Democratic Party in power has deported some 5 million immigrants, a record, and

Whereas across the country, from Oakland to Baltimore, police under Democratic mayors regularly murder black men and women with impunity, and

Whereas the 2016 presidential election offers us the “choice” between a raving, bigoted clown and a career representative of Wall Street, and

Whereas the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, Virginia governor Tim Kaine, supports union- busting “right to work” laws, and

Whereas Democrats and Republicans are and have always been strike-breaking, war-making parties of the bosses, and

Whereas so long as the labor movement supports one or another party of the bosses, we will be playing a losing game, therefore be it

Resolved that IUPAT Local 10 does not support the Democrats, Republicans, or any bosses’ parties or politicians, and

Resolved that we call on the International Union to repudiate its endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president, and

Resolved that we call on the labor movement to break from the Democratic Party, and build a class- struggle workers party.

News of this resolution was also published by the Northwest Labor Press.

Tags: labor partyilwuworkers partyDemocrats
Categories: Labor News

Uber and Lyft want to replace public buses

Current News - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 23:04

Uber and Lyft want to replace public buses
http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-uber-lyft-public-transit-20160...

Pinellas Park, Fla., isn't the kind of place you'd expect to gain insight about the future of mass transit. The suburb of Tampa is as car-crazy as your average stretch of Floridian sprawl — the local landmarks include the Tampa Bay Automobile Museum and a drag racing strip — and anyone who can avoid the bus does. But recently the agency responsible for the area's public transportation began a novel experiment: It stopped running two bus lines and started paying for a portion of Uber rides instead.

In Uber's early days, it said it wanted to be "everyone's private driver." Now the company and its main U.S. competitor, Lyft, are playing around with the idea of becoming the bus driver, too. Uber has partnered with a handful of local public transportation agencies to strike deals like the one in Pinellas Park, which it expanded earlier this month. Later this month Lyft plans to launch a partnership with Centennial, Col., its first deal where a local government will subsidize its rides. The company also said it has helped a dozen transit agencies apply for federal grants that would pay for a portion of Lyft fares in situations where its drivers would effectively become part of the public transportation system.

Anthony Ponce quits NBC news to drive for Lyft, produce podcast
Each of the current projects is tiny, but they could eventually be combined into something big, said Emily Castor, director of transportation policy at Lyft. "This is an area that has the potential to be a very significant part of Lyft's work in the future," she said. "How quickly will it progress from small pilots to being institutionalized in transit agencies? I think that's harder to predict."

Over the past several years, ride-hailing companies and local government officials have often had an uneasy, sometimes outright hostile relationship over regulation. The public transportation deals have been an oasis of rapprochement between them. In part, the ride-hailing deals are too small to seem threatening, according to Kyle Shelton, a program manager at the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University. "It may affect some routes; it may affect service overall; but it's not going to replace the main lines that carry thousands of riders per day," he said.

Governments already pay for taxis in some situations, but the deals with Uber and Lyft could usher in more fundamental change, and with it, tensions. What happens to people without smartphones? How do Uber and Lyft serve disabled riders? What happens if the cities come to rely on the apps, only to have the private companies decide the partnerships are no longer a sensible business venture for them? And do public governments want to encourage the replacement of public sector jobs with the contract work that defines the sharing economy?

It quickly became apparent that in areas with few riders, paying for part of a private ride was cheaper than running a bus.

As officials grapple with those questions, it's hard to ignore the real savings for governments — and real revenue for Uber and Lyft. In 2014, Americans spent $15 billion in fares on public transportation at the 850 public transit agencies that share data with the Federal Transit Administration. The operating expenses at those agencies was $42 billion. Much of the remaining 65 percent of the cost of running the systems came from public subsidies.

Suburban areas with less density and lower ridership are particularly expensive to run, making ride hailing an attractive alternative, said Adie Tomer, a fellow at Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program. "If they can provide better outcomes for your population and do it at either the same cost if not lower, that's a win-win for society," he said. "This could start spiraling very fast."

In late 2014, Pinellas County voters rejected a referendum that would have increased local taxes to fund more bus lines and a light rail system. The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority would have to cut back. It drew up plans to cut off the least popular of its four-dozen bus lines.

Residents in Pinellas Park, a relatively dense working class area, and East Lake, a richer area that had a publicly run van service, complained they'd be stranded. So the transportation agency decided to share the cost of Uber rides for anyone traveling those two routes. Earlier this year it started a pilot program where people received a 50 percent discount for rides, with a maximum subsidy per ride of $3, to help riders connect to the transit system.

It quickly became apparent that in areas with few riders, paying for part of a private ride was cheaper than running a bus. The program will cost $40,000 a year, or about a quarter the cost of the two bus lines it replaced, according to the PSTA. The PSTA declined to give statistics about its ridership, other than to describe it as a success. On Aug. 1, the agency began offering subsidies for all rides in the county that end at about 20 designated transit stops. "It's not supposed to be something you'd take instead of the bus; it's supposed to be something you'd take to the bus," said Ashlie Handy, a spokeswoman for the agency. On the same day it expanded the initial program, PSTA launched a separate one to give free Uber rides to low-income residents traveling after 9 p.m., when buses don't run.

Molly Spaeth, a spokeswoman for Uber, said the company was pleased with the response to the project and would continue to look for ways to work with transit agencies.

Officials in Centennial, a suburb of Denver, will launch a similar partnership with Lyft later this month, marking the first time a government will pay for Lyft rides using public funds. Through the program, Centennial will pay for Lyft rides to and from a regional rail stop from an area that has previously only been covered by a shuttle bus. The existing service costs the city about $20 per ride, according to Cathy Noon, Centennial's mayor, far more than what it will have to pay for Lyft rides. The city projects it will handle 280 rides per day, or about six times as many rides as it currently handles through the bus service. Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable group founded by Bloomberg LP founder and majority owner Michael Bloomberg, gave Centennial a grant in 2014 to work on urban innovation.

Around the same time that Pinellas County launched its pilot, nearby Altamonte Springs, Fla., a suburb of Orlando, began paying for 20 percent of any Uber ride within city limits. For rides that ended at regional rail stations, the rate was 25 percent. City officials said Uber keeps them from sharing ridership numbers but that the program has grown quickly. They're working to expand to several neighboring towns soon.

In July, Miami-Dade County, Fla., applied for a $3.5 million federal grant to improve public transportation, $575,000 of which it plans to use to subsidize Uber and Lyft rides to two train stations, hoping that doing so will increase ridership at those stations by 5 percent. "Ride-sharing companies will mature in the Miami-Dade market but are unlikely to serve low ridership and low income neighborhoods without public subsidy," the county said in its application. It is also working to incorporate ride hailing into its own mobile ticketing application.

Miami-Dade's cooperation with ride-hailing companies coincided with the end of a yearslong fight with them over whether to allow Uber and Lyft to operate. Until a few months ago, Uber and Lyft were against the law, and the city handed out violations to drivers as they picked up fares. Carlos Cruz-Casas, assistant director of the Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works, said it was odd to plan the area's future around ride hailing while also debating whether ride hailing should be legal at all. "It was a friendly relationship," he said. "They were being fined, but at the same time, we'd say, let's work together."

Issues of control are going to test these friendships, said Shelton and Tomer. Local governments are eager for data about ridership that they can use to reconfigure services, and Uber and Lyft tend to see information about demand as trade secrets. If ride hailing does drive down car ownership, as both Uber and Lyft expect it will, that could increase demand for subsidized rides, leaving governments holding the tab for new forms of semi-public transit.

Bridj, a startup that runs private bus service in some cities, is proposing a model that would leave more control with the governments. It has no set lines and instead responds to requests made on its app.

Earlier this year, Kansas City Area Transportation Authority agreed to buy 10 vehicles from Bridj, staff them with drivers, and set and collect fares. Unlike the ride-hailing partnerships, which are largely designed to get people to another form of transit, the Bridj program aims to drop people off where they're actually trying to go. Instead of sharing in fares, Bridj takes a service fee for the use of the technology that accepts ride requests and directs the vehicles on ever-changing routes.

The Kansas City government gets to keep more control, and Matthew George, Bridj's chief executive officer, said about three dozen cities have inquired about partnerships since the Kansas City pilot started. The company plans to announce at least four partnerships before the end of the year. George thinks private, on-demand bus lines will prove to be more cost-effective than ride-hailing services that use smaller vehicles because they can move more people at once.

George also criticizes Lyft's and Uber's spotty track records of cooperation with local governments, and points out that unlike at those companies, Bridj's drivers in Kansas City are all union members hired by the transit authority. "On the one end of the spectrum you have the very traditional mode that we've done for 100 years, and on the other one, you have this Ayn Randian free market free-for-all that doesn't have basic protections in place for the people who are most vulnerable," he said. "We've shown that there's something in the middle."

Tags: Uberprivatizationbuses
Categories: Labor News

Drop the Charges against Tom Harding and Richard Labrie-Railroad Workers Harding and Labrie Defense Committee And Solidarity Campaign

Current News - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 11:26

Railroad Workers Harding and Labrie Defense Committee And Solidarity Campaign
https://actionnetwork.org/groups/harding-and-labrie-defense-committee
Tom Harding and Richard Labrie are Canadian Rail workers and members of Steelworkers Union Local 1976. They are being scapegoated for the tragic oil train wreck in Lac-Mégantic QC on July 6, 2013. Every condition for that disaster was driven by Corporate decisions. Rail Safety is not advanced by scapegoating workers who had no control over those decisions.

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Laissez tomber les charges qui pèsent contre Tom Harding et Richard Labrie

No More Lac-Mégantics!

Drop the Charges against Tom Harding and Richard Labrie
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Solidarity Needed For Rail Safety and Against Scapegoating Rail Workers

Dear Friends:

Some of you may have already signed this petition last month. For those who did, please forward the info below to friends, family and co-workers. For those who have not, please read the info below and sign the petition to help Railroad Workers United win this fight! Thanks.

In solidarity,

Ron

Ron Kaminkow
608-358-5771

“We need to have faith in each other. We are in precisely the same position. We depend absolutely on each other. We know that without solidarity, nothing is possible, and that with solidarity, nothing is impossible.”
Eugene V. Debs, Founder of the American Railway Union

Dear friends,

So glad you joined 1,000 others and signed the petition for rail safety to drop the charges against two railway workers (Harding and Labrie) who could spend decades in jail because management cut safety corners.
September 13th is the next court date, and we need to double the number of people demanding that the charges be dropped.
Harding and Labrie are counting on our help. Please tell a friend by copying and pasting the message below into an email today.
Solidarity,
Fritz Edler
for the Harding - Labrie Defense Committee
P.S. For the new, French version, click here.

Email to share:
Subject: Will you join with me on this?
I just signed this petition in the ongoing fight for rail safety...super important. Hoping you'll join me?
Please sign now at http://bit.ly/HardingDefense, before September 13th, the next court date for two railroad workers being blamed for a tragedy that was management’s fault.
Three years ago a runaway train carrying volatile Bakken oil crashed into the town of Lac-Mégantic in Quebec, killing 47 people and destroying much of the town. When the facts finally came out, the proximate cause of the runaway train was management’s refusal to allow workers to use the air brakes to secure the dangerous cargo.
But railroad workers Tom Harding and Richard Labrie still face jail time. Scapegoating workers for unsafe management policies make railroads and all of us much less safe.
That’s why everybody who cares about rail safety, the environment and workers rights has to tell the authorities to Drop The Charges. We have enough time before September 13th to double the number of signers.
I really hope you’ll stand with me. Sign the petition at http://bit.ly/HardingDefense, then ask your friends to sign. Thanks.
P.S. For the new, French version, click here.

The Evidence is in: The Train Crew did not Cause the Lac-Mégantic Tragedy
http://hardingdefense.org/sign-the-petition/?source=email2
DROP THE CHARGES against Tom Harding and Richard Labrie
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Cliquez ici pour la version francaise

Drop the Charges against Tom Harding and Richard Labrie
Target: The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and the Honourable Stéphanie Vallée, Minister of Justice, QC
Tell the Canadian Government Scapegoating Railroad Workers Is the Wrong Way to Get Safe Trains

The Canadian Transportation Safety Board (TSB) as well as investigative reporters have documented the factors that led to the wreck. The results show that management policy decisions were the direct causes of the disaster.

It is now plain that the actions of Tom Harding and Richard Labrie did not cause the tragedy; unsafe management policies and inadequate braking rules did. Transport Canada was not paying enough attention in 2013. Add your name to call on the Justice Ministry to pay attention now and drop the charges.

Sponsored by

Harding and Labrie Defense Committee
To: The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and the Honourable Stéphanie Vallée, Minister of Justice, QC
From: [Your Name]

It’s Time To Drop the Charges Against the Railroad Workers

It is almost three years since the tragic train wreck in Lac-Mégantic QC. Now is the time for your office to take action to stop a continuing injustice, the prosecution of railroad workers Tom Harding and Richard Labrie under the Canadian Railway Safety Act and other laws.

The record has established that the actions of Tom Harding and Richard Labrie did not cause this tragedy. Continuing to prosecute the railworkers in this case does not lead to rail safety. We, the undersigned, call on those charged with administering justice to do their part now and drop the charges.

1,432 Signatures Collected
Only 168 more until our goal of 1,600
Sign This Petition

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Tags: Harding and Labrie Defense CommitteeRail safetyhealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

Advocacy group alleges Muni fails to protect workers in light of driver's assault

Current News - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 22:55

Advocacy group alleges Muni fails to protect workers in light of driver's assault
http://www.ktvu.com/news/194084520-story

POSTED:AUG 19 2016 06:56PM PDT
UPDATED:AUG 19 2016 06:57PM PDT
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Members of an advocacy group for public workers today demanded that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency release surveillance video to the public which allegedly shows a female bus driver being assaulted by a man last week in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood.

During a news conference outside Muni's office at 1 South Van Ness Avenue, members of United Public Workers for Action alleged that the driver is not being supported by her employer, Muni, and is instead being punished for speaking out about the incident.

"Why is the SFMTA not releasing the video for the public?" UPWA member Steve Zeltzer said. "We think there is a record of harassment, of bullying of San Francisco Muni transit workers in San Francisco. Many have been harassed and bullied for making health and safety complaints."

The incident reportedly happened the morning of Aug. 13, near the corner of Third and Mission streets. Driver Carla Romero had exited her bus to correct an issue with the bus's overhead poles, when a driver stopped his car and confronted her, resulting in a physical altercation, according to Zeltzer.

Both the driver and the man filed complaints against each other, and both were cited with battery.

The UPWA believes the releasing of the video is important, as it shows Romero was defending herself during the incident.

Muni spokesman Paul Rose said surveillance video from the bus Romero was operating has been handed over to police.

Additionally, Rose said that while Muni is working with the police department on investigating the incident, Muni fully supports Romero, who is still employed with the transit agency.

"We know that our operators have very difficult and demanding jobs and that the vast majority of them do an extremely great job," Rose said.

"However, physical violence should never be an option for people who have issues with the system."

In response to the incident, Muni has launched a campaign in conjunction with the Transport Union Workers Local 250-A aimed at the public to educate them about the dangers drivers often face.

"We're doing everything we can to ensure the safety of our operators through the systems, including working with the operators union on a campaign that will help personalize our operators, to get the message their out that they have families and are people too."

The ads, which will be displayed across buses and trains next month, include pictures of Muni operators and quotes from them, as well as apparent friends and family members, urging people to avoid targeting bus drivers. The ads also employ the hashtag #Keepthemsafe.

The UPWA agrees that bus drivers are often the targets of drivers and others who are frustrated with the city's increasingly congested traffic conditions.

"Unfortunately a lot of that stress and anger is being taken out on public workers. It's being taken out on the drivers and that's unacceptable for us. We have to end the harassment and the bullying. We have to have healthy and safe places for our Muni drivers," Zeltzer said.

Zeltzer, however, maintained that Muni has not done enough to protect operators and discourages employees from making complaints.

"What happens in many of these incidents is that the driver gets fired. They blame the driver and they retaliate against the driver. The driver gets the brunt of this."

The San Francisco Police Department was not immediately available for comment on the incident.

Tags: TWU 250Atransit workershealth and safetybeatingosha
Categories: Labor News

San Francisco advocacy group UPWA alleges Muni fails to protect workers in light of driver’s assault

Current News - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 18:51

San Francisco advocacy group alleges Muni fails to protect workers in light of driver’s assault
http://kron4.com/2016/08/19/video-san-francisco-advocacy-group-alleges-m...
By Bay City News
Published: August 19, 2016, 5:45 pm

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — Members of an advocacy group for public workers Friday demanded that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency release surveillance video to the public which allegedly shows a female bus driver being assaulted by a man last week in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood.

During a news conference outside Muni’s office at 1 South Van Ness Avenue, members of United Public Workers for Action alleged that the driver is not being supported by her employer, Muni, and is instead being punished for speaking out about the incident.

“Why is the SFMTA not releasing the video for the public?” UPWA member Steve Zeltzer said. “We think there is a record of harassment, of bullying of San Francisco Muni transit workers in San Francisco. Many have been harassed and bullied for making health and safety complaints.”

The incident reportedly happened the morning of Aug. 13, near the corner of Third and Mission streets. Driver Carla Romero had exited her bus to correct an issue with the bus’s overhead poles, when a driver stopped his car and confronted her, resulting in a physical altercation, according to Zeltzer.

Both the driver and the man filed complaints against each other, and both were cited with battery.

The UPWA believes the releasing of the video is important, as it shows Romero was defending herself during the incident.

Muni spokesman Paul Rose said surveillance video from the bus Romero was operating has been handed over to police.

Additionally, Rose said that while Muni is working with the police department on investigating the incident, Muni fully supports Romero, who is still employed with the transit agency.

“We know that our operators have very difficult and demanding jobs and that the vast majority of them do an extremely great job,” Rose said.

“However, physical violence should never be an option for people who have issues with the system.”

In response to the incident, Muni has launched a campaign in conjunction with the Transport Union Workers Local 250-A aimed at the public to educate them about the dangers drivers often face.

“We’re doing everything we can to ensure the safety of our operators through the systems, including working with the operators union on a campaign that will help personalize our operators, to get the message their out that they have families and are people too.”

The ads, which will be displayed across buses and trains next month, include pictures of Muni operators and quotes from them, as well as apparent friends and family members, urging people to avoid targeting bus
drivers. The ads also employ the hashtag #Keepthemsafe.

The UPWA agrees that bus drivers are often the targets of drivers and others who are frustrated with the city’s increasingly congested traffic conditions.

“Unfortunately a lot of that stress and anger is being taken out on public workers. It’s being taken out on the drivers and that’s unacceptable for us. We have to end the harassment and the bullying. We have to have healthy and safe places for our Muni drivers,” Zeltzer said.

Zeltzer, however, maintained that Muni has not done enough to protect operators and discourages employees from making complaints.

“What happens in many of these incidents is that the driver gets fired. They blame the driver and they retaliate against the driver. The driver gets the brunt of this.”

The San Francisco Police Department was not immediately available for comment on the incident.

Tags: MTAhealth and safetyTWU 250A Drivers
Categories: Labor News

UK: Collective action via social media brings hope to gig economy workers

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Guardian
Categories: Labor News

Two men sue, allege sexual harassment at FedEx Watsonville “All Mexicans are criminals,” and told Gonzales, who is from Jalisco, Mexico, “you know what they say about people from Jalisco ... they are jotos.” The word “joto” is a derogatory word in Spanish

Current News - Thu, 08/18/2016 - 22:53

Two men sue, allege sexual harassment at FedEx Watsonville “All Mexicans are criminals,” and told Gonzales, who is from Jalisco, Mexico, “you know what they say about people from Jalisco ... they are jotos.” The word “joto” is a derogatory word in Spanish for homosexuals.
http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/business/20160817/two-men-sue-allege-se...
By Jondi Gumz, Santa Cruz Sentinel
POSTED: 08/17/16, 5:13 PM PDT | UPDATED: 9 HRS AGO0 COMMENTS
Department of Fair EMPLOYMENT AND HOUSING

What: This state agency receives, investigates and prosecutes complaints of alleged violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act, Unruh Civil Rights Act, Disabled Persons Act and Ralph Civil Rights Act 1. Last year, 51 complaints relating to employment and 16 relating to housing were filed by Santa Cruz County residents.

2015 complaints: 23,770.

Employment: 20,505.

Most frequent issue: Retaliation.

Housing: 1,365.

Right to sue requests: 11,768.

Investigated: 6,147.

Settled: 1,011.

Settlement recovery: $12 million.

Source: California Department of Fair Housing and Employment.

WATSONVILLE >> Two men who worked their way up to manager jobs at FedEx Ground’s Watsonville terminal have filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging they endured months of harassment on the basis of sex, race and national origin by two senior managers who created a hostile work environment.

Rodolfo Gonzales, who started as a baggage handler in 1999, advanced to inbound manager III, and Eric Rico, a service manager who started as a package handler in 2005, allege James Faris, senior manager at the Watsonville terminal, and James Taylor, sort manager, harassed them, according to the lawsuit filed by Winer McKenna & Burritt of Oakland.

Gonzales was fired a year ago, which he considers retaliation for his complaints.

In court filings, attorneys for Faris, Taylor and FedEx, deny every allegation.

Perry Colosimo, FedEx managing director for communications, said via email, “FedEx has responded to this complaint and has no further details to offer at this time.”

The case was transferred from Alameda Superior Court to Santa Cruz Superior Court in July 2015.

“We attempted a mediation a few weeks ago and that did not result in a settlement, so discovery will continue,” said Alexis McKenna of Winer McKenna & Burritt. “We have a case management conference with the judge (Wednesday).”

The lawsuit seeks damages but does not specify an amount.

“Mr. Gonzales’ wage loss is ongoing, and Mr. Rico continues to suffer retaliation at FedEx Ground, and so they both also continue to suffer ongoing emotional distress,” McKenna said. “It will be up to a jury to decide what that amount is worth, considering the indignities they have suffered. Mr. Gonzales has been looking for work but unable to find any.”

The two men, described in the lawsuit as “Mexican American,” filed a complaint with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing on Dec. 1, 2014, alleging harassment, discrimination and retaliation by FedEx, and received a “right to sue” letter from the agency.

The lawsuit alleges Faris repeatedly called Rico and Gonzales offensive homophobic names such as “fag,” “homo” and queer.”

The lawsuit alleges Faris made offensive comments about Rico’s national origin, saying, “All Mexicans are criminals,” and told Gonzales, who is from Jalisco, Mexico, “you know what they say about people from Jalisco ... they are jotos.” The word “joto” is a derogatory word in Spanish for homosexuals.

The lawsuit alleges that Faris pinched and grabbed Gonzales’ cheek, waist and nipples.

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Gonzales reported Faris to his managers including Taylor and Edward Castro, which led to Taylor “in February or March 2014” telling Gonzales, “Why don’t you quit like a man,” according to the lawsuit.

Gonzales called the FedEx alert line, and met with Shari Ekonian, a field human resources advisor.

Rico spoke with Ektonian and afterward, got false write-ups from Taylor and a smaller raise, according to the complaint.

In July 2014, Gonzales learned Faris threatened to kill Rico, Gonzales and their families if he were terminated due to their complaints, according to the lawsuit.

Faris was fired the day after Gonzales called the alert line but Taylor’s retaliation did not end, according to the lawsuit.

After FedEx got notice from the state of the harassment complaints, FedEx told Gonzales to complete additional training after his return from a medical leave, according to the lawsuit. He refused to sign an acknowledgement of the complaints, saying the HR rep told him he didn’t have to.

Gonzales was suspended in April 2015 for poor performance, and fired on July 27, 2015, which he considers retaliation. According to the lawsuit, Taylor emailed employees saying the termination was due to excessive absences.

STATE DEPARTMENT OF FAIR EMPLOYMENT & HOUSING

What: This state agency receives, investigates and prosecutes complaints of alleged violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act, Unruh Civil Rights Act, Disabled Persons Act and Ralph Civil Rights Act 1. Last year, 51 complaints relating to employment and 16 relating to housing were filed by Santa Cruz County residents.

2015 complaints: 23,770.

Employment: 20,505.

Most frequent issue: Retaliation.

Housing: 1,365.

Right to sue requests: 11,768.

Investigated: 6,147.

Settled: 1,011.

Settlement recovery: $12 million.

Tags: FedExdiscriminationracism
Categories: Labor News

Railroads show little progress on key safety technology as Congress lets rail bosses and billionaires off the hook

Current News - Thu, 08/18/2016 - 18:49

Railroads show little progress on key safety technology as Congress lets rail bosses and billionaires off the hook
Railroads show little progress on key safety technology
http://phys.org/news/2016-08-railroads-key-safety-technology.html
August 17, 2016 by Joan Lowy

In this Wednesday, May 13, 2015 file photo, emergency personnel work at the scene of a derailment in Philadelphia of an Amtrak train headed to New York. Many commuter and freight railroads have made little progress installing safety technology designed to prevent deadly collisions and derailments despite a mandate from Congress, according to a government report released Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
Many commuter and freight railroads have made little progress installing safety technology designed to prevent deadly collisions and derailments despite a mandate from Congress, according to a government report released Wednesday.

The technology, called positive train control or PTC, uses digital radio communications, GPS and signals alongside tracks to monitor train positions. It can automatically stop or slow trains to prevent them from disobeying signals, derailing due to excessive speed, colliding with another train or entering track that is off-limits.
The Federal Railroad Administration report shows that while some railroads have made substantial progress, others have yet to equip a single locomotive or track segment with the technology, or install a single radio tower.
Congress passed a law in 2008 giving railroads seven years to put the technology in place, and last year extended that deadline for three more years after railroads said they were unable to meet the first deadline. The law extending the deadline to Dec. 31, 2018, also allows the railroad administration to grant additional extensions for two more years to railroads that have installed PTC but are still testing the systems.
Railroads shouldn't wait for the deadline to complete their work on PTC, said Sarah Feinberg, head of the railroad administration.
"Every day that passes without PTC, we risk adding another preventable accident to a list that is already too long," she said in a statement.
So far, PTC is in operation on nine percent of freight route miles and 22 percent of passenger train miles, the report said.
Freight railroads have equipped 34 percent of their locomotives, installed 73 percent of their radio towers and completed 11 percent of their track segments. Passenger railroads have equipped 29 percent of their locomotives, installed 46 percent of their radio towers, and completed 12 percent of their track segments.
But progress varies considerably by railroad. For example, BNSF has equipped 4,309 of its 5,000 locomotives, but Union Pacific has equipped only 13 of its 5,656 locomotives.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, which operates commuter trains in the Philadelphia region, has equipped all its locomotives, installed all its radio towers and completed all its track segments. But nearby New Jersey Transit Rail, which carries an average of 308,000 passengers on weekdays, hasn't equipped any locomotives, installed any radio towers or completed any track segments.

The report also gave zeros in each of those categories to New York's largest commuter railroads, the Metro-North and the Long Island railroads. In 2013, a speeding Metro-North train derailed while going around a curve in the Bronx. Four people were killed and more than 60 injured. The National Transportation Safety Board said the accident could have been prevented if PTC had been in operation.
The report is based on information supplied by the railroads.
The report "is an overall summary that does not convey the progress we have achieved," said Nancy Snyder, a spokeswoman for New Jersey Transit. She noted that the railroad has acquired spectrum rights, equipped four "prototype vehicles" for testing and installed five antennas in a demonstration area, among other actions.
Beth DeFalco, a spokeswoman for Metro North and the Long Island railroads, said the railroads have done extensive work on PTC and hope to see benefits from the technology as soon as next year.
The NTSB has urged railroads to install positive train control or earlier train control technologies for more than four decades. The board says that over that time it has investigated at least 145 PTC-preventable accidents in which about 300 people were killed and 6,700 injured.
More recently, the board has said PTC could have prevented the head-on collision of two BNSF trains in June near Panhandle, Texas. Three railroad employees were killed in the crash. The technology also could have prevented the derailment of a speeding Amtrak train in Philadelphia last year. Eight people were killed and over 200 injured in the crash.
Commuter railroads have spent $950 million on PTC so far, but the total cost is estimated to be at least $3.48 billion, said Richard A. White, acting president of the American Public Transportation Association. The White House requested Congress provide $1.25 billion in the coming 2017 federal budget year to help commuter railroads with PTC; House and Senate spending bills allocate only $199 million.
"Despite this funding dilemma, the industry is moving forward with this top safety priority," White said in a statement.

Tags: Rail safetyrailroad ownerssafety techregulation
Categories: Labor News

Iran: Ebrahim Madadi sentenced to five years: ITF calls on Iranian government to drop charges

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 08/18/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITF Global Union
Categories: Labor News

Brazil: UNI World Athletes calls for reform of conflicted and unjust global anti-doping regime

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 08/18/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: UNI Global Union
Categories: Labor News

Korea (South): How can it be a crime to protect the rights of workers?

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 08/18/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: BWI Global Union
Categories: Labor News

British Airways cabin crew British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (BASSA) vote for industrial action but no strike

Current News - Thu, 08/18/2016 - 07:22

British Airways cabin crew vote for industrial action but no strike
Members of 8,800-strong BASSA back action over implementation of new onboard performance review system
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/aug/17/british-airways-ba-cabi...
Unite claims BA’s new performance review system is resulting in cabin crew being blamed for situations that are not their fault. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA
Simon Goodley
Wednesday 17 August 2016 18.51 BSTLast modified on Wednesday 17 August 2016 22.01 BST

British Airways cabin crew have voted for industrial action, but have stopped short of going on strike in the first dispute between the airline and its flight attendants since the bitter battles of 2010.

Members of the 8,800-strong British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (BASSA), a section of the country’s largest trade union Unite, backed action short of a strike, with 91% of votes returned in favour.

The move comes as union officials have been pressing the airline to drop its new performance review system, which provides onboard staff with immediate feedback on their performance from passengers and colleagues.

The information is presented via a “dashboard” that includes staff league tables and red warning lights showing if the cabin crew member’s performance has been rated as poor. The airline says such systems are common in all industries and help to improve staff performance.

Unite claims its members are getting blamed for situations that are not their fault, including crew receiving poor feedback from passengers disgruntled about faults in the entertainment systems or air conditioning.

Matt Smith, a regional Unite officer, said: “Our members have voted overwhelmingly against the introduction of this flawed dashboard scheme. The BA management should note the enormous strength of feeling against this policy with what, we suspect, is a hidden agenda of future job losses. A perfectly adequate performance management policy already exists.

“It is completely unfair to expect them to be placed in a league table, competing against each other, over onboard issues that are clearly out of their control.

“Cabin crew time spent on these wasteful performance schemes is crew time not giving passengers value for money in a highly competitive premium market.”

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The industrial action will take the form of cabin crew declining to engage with the new performance management system, including refusing to sign off feedback forms.

The action is a far cry from the bitter dispute of six years ago over staffing levels, when thousands of staff took part in 22 days of walkouts that cost BA £150m. BA’s decision to cut staffing levels on long-haul flights, which triggered the dispute, was not reversed.

In response to the Unite vote, BA said: “We can reassure our customers that they will experience no inconvenience as a consequence of this ballot result. Unite has been clear from the start that it would not take strike action.

“The system we have recently introduced includes feedback from customers about how they are looked after onboard. This sort of feedback is common in all industries and enables us to commend cabin crew who perform well and support those that need to improve.

“A similar system already exists for many crew. It allows us to offer our customers the very highest standards of service. We remain open to discussions with our cabin crew and their union representatives about this new system.”

Tags: British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (BASSA)British Airwaysstrike
Categories: Labor News

Canada: I Can't Work if I Can't Breathe: Why Labour Must Support Black Lives Matter

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 08/17/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Our Times
Categories: Labor News

Mayor Bill de Blasio Picks Union Buster-NY Citywide Ferry Operator Hornblower Has 'Pathetic' Labor Record, Union Says

Current News - Wed, 08/17/2016 - 09:46

Mayor Bill de Blasio Picks Union Buster NY Citywide Ferry Operator Hornblower Has 'Pathetic' Labor Record, Union Says
https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20160817/battery-park-city/citys-ferry-...

Hornblower is expected to start providing citywide ferry service in 2017.
LOWER MANHATTAN — When Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in the spring that ferry operator Hornblower Inc. had been picked to provide citywide service starting in 2017, he lauded the company for its “decade-long record as a strong union employer.”

But lawsuits by former employees and interviews with union officials who have seen their members lose jobs contradict that labor-friendly description of Hornblower, a nationwide provider of ferries, charter boats and sightseeing tours.

In New York alone, Hornblower has faced accusations of racial discrimination and wage violations.

Two former black employees — one who is the only African-American commercial ferry captain in the New York Harbor — are currently suing the ferry operator’s subsidiary Statue Cruises, claiming they were fired because of their race.

Their accusations were bolstered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which investigated the claims and found that the company created a hostile environment for the former workers.

The federal agency also concluded that there was reasonable cause to believe the workers were discriminated against based on their race.

Hornblower is also currently facing a class-action lawsuit claiming that it wrongfully withheld tips from catering staff on charter cruises around New York City.

The ferry provider has faced similar lawsuits involving racial discrimination and wage violations in other parts of the country.

It’s also been accused of intimidating employees who have complained about wage violations or tried to self-organize, according to complaints filed with the National Labor Relations Board and a lawsuit.

“Anyone who has spent more than 60 seconds on the internet would discover that their labor record is pathetic and they have no business operating in a city that supports good wages, benefits and respects the right of workers to have unions,” said Craig Merrilees, a spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which saw members lose their jobs after Hornblower took over a lucrative federal contract to operate ferries to Alcatraz Island in 2006.

In March New York City’s Economic Development Corporation chose Hornblower over other bidders to run a new five-borough ferry service. The six-year deal will cost the city at least $30 million a year to subsidize.

Hornblower already has an existing contract with the city through its subsidiary Statue Cruises, which runs boats to the Statue of Liberty from the Battery in Lower Manhattan. DNAinfo New York reported exclusively last week that the city Department of Investigation has opened a probe into Hornblower’s connections to an illegal ticket trade of the Liberty Island cruises.

Hornblower, which has been in business for 35 years and has a current workforce of more than 1,600 employees, said in a statement that it is “very proud of our solid labor record and diverse workforce.”

“The company has put in place fair and strong HR policies and has never been found liable in court for racial discrimination,” the statement said. “All material unfair labor practice complaints involving Hornblower have been dismissed, withdrawn or settled by the parties. We have solid relationships with our crew and the union that represents our crew members, and we are incredibly excited about all of the new quality jobs we are creating in New York City.”

EDC spokesman Anthony Hogrebe also said Hornblower is a good employer, praising it for its commitment to pay a $15 per hour starting wage to its workers a year and a half before the state's minimum wage reaches that level.

“EDC selected Hornblower to operate Citywide Ferry in no small part because of its record of providing good wages and benefits to workers, and strong history of working with organized labor,” Hogrebe said. “We look forward to Citywide Ferry bringing over 150 good-paying jobs to New York Harbor, and we will continue to perform thorough oversight of our operator throughout its contract.”

Andre Washington and Lester Tyson filed a federal lawsuit against Hornblower and Statue Cruises in 2015, claiming they were fired because they were black.

Both men began working for the company Liberty Landing Ferries in 2007. A year later, Hornblower acquired Liberty Landing and took over the cruises to the Statue of Liberty.

Washington, the only black captain operating a commercial ferry in New York Harbor, was highly regarded and filled in for his ship’s regular captain when necessary, according to the lawsuit. Meanwhile, Tyson was a popular deckhand, collecting tickets and helping passengers on and off the ferries.

The lawsuit says that during their final year of employment, Washington and Tyson were treated differently from their white counterparts.

Washington was asked to fill in for the regular captain less frequently.

Instead, the job went to less-experienced captains, including one who garnered the nickname "Captain Crunch" for being so inept that he damaged his ship on several occasions while attempting to dock, the lawsuit says.

Meanwhile, Tyson, who suffers from a medical problem requiring bathroom breaks, was arbitrarily denied use of the restroom by the regular ship captain, according to the lawsuit.

Tyson was also denied a replacement for his worn-out float coat — a jacket used by deckhands that have floatation devices — while a less-senior part-time employee received new one, according to the lawsuit.

The two were ultimately fired in 2013 after the management accused them of stealing time by clocking into work for one another.

The lawsuit says that it was a customary practice for a crew member to punch the clock for co-workers.

Washington and Tyson said in the lawsuit they were always present in each other’s company when they clocked in for one another. Moreover, a separate timesheet was kept on their ship, showing that they did not steal time, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit says they were the only employees fired for clocking in each other despite other workers doing the same. The two men have also been unable to find work in the harbor since their terminations, according to the lawsuit.

Hornblower has denied the accusations in the lawsuit, and the two sides are currently in settlement talks. A lawyer for Washington and Tyson declined to comment.

Complaints against Hornblower’s labor practices also include:

► Catering staff for Hornblower’s sightseeing and charter operations in New York filed a lawsuit in 2015, claiming that the company didn’t give them proceeds from the service fees that it charged customers.

The lawsuit claims that most customers were led to believe that the service fee was a gratuity for staff. New York law prohibits employers from retaining any portion of an employee’s gratuity or a charge purported to be a tip.

Hornblower has said in filings in the case that when it charges customers an administrative fee for an event, it expressly says the fee is not a gratuity for its employees.

► Jiboku Ayokunle — a black guest-services agent for Hornblower subsidiary Alcatraz Cruises, which provides ferry service to the former prison island off San Francisco — said he quit his job after management didn’t respond to his complaints about his co-workers and supervisors repeatedly making racist remarks to him.

He sued Hornblower in 2015, claiming his civil rights were violated because of the racist verbal abuse as well as being denied promotions. The two sides later settled and signed non-disclosure agreements.

► Cooks and wait staff for Hornblower in Los Angeles sued the company in 2008, claiming they were not provided a rest period during their work day nor were they compensated in pay for the missed rest period. The case was later settled.

► Howard Flecker III, a deckhand for Statue Cruises, filed a lawsuit in 2009 claiming that a collective-bargaining agreement between his maritime union, Local 333, and the boat operator violated New Jersey’s wage laws because he only received overtime pay after working more than 48 hour in a week.

Flecker later claimed Statue Cruises tried to intimidate him by writing a memo informing all its employees about Flecker and his lawsuit and cutting their hours to 40 hours per week until the case was resolved.

Flecker said he later resigned from his job after his co-workers repeatedly confronted him about the lawsuit and the work hours they were losing. While a jury awarded Flecker $560,000 in 2014, the judgment was set aside. Instead Flecker and Statue Cruises reached a settlement.

► Two unions, the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific and the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots, took legal action against Hornblower in 2006 to try to block the National Park Service from awarding it a 10-year contract to run ferry service to Alcatraz island.

The prior ferry provider ran a union operation but Hornblower was non-union and made all the existing employees reapply for jobs.

Ultimately, the court battle led to Hornblower subsidiary Alcatraz Cruises paying union wages to the employees.

But Marina Secchitano, a regional director at the Inlandboatmen’s Union, said that Alcatraz Cruises didn’t rehire many of its members.

“We had excellent employees for 25 years — top in their field — and they weren’t good enough for [Hornblower owner] Terry Macrae,” Secchitano said.

Hornblower said that of its initial crew at Alcatraz Cruises, about 30 percent were the union predecessor’s employees. It said it hired more union employees from its predecessor than from other Hornblower business units, and that it provided jobs to the most qualified applicants.

The San Francisco-based unions have continued to try to organize Alcatraz Cruises but have been unsuccessful.

The unions and former employees at Alcatraz Cruises have filed five complaints with the National Labor Relations Board between 2010 and 2015 accusing Hornblower of firing or surveilling workers who try to organize a union.

However, the NLRB investigated and determined that the claims were unfounded.

Tags: hornblowerIBUilwuAlcatraz CruisesMayor Bill de Blasiounion busting
Categories: Labor News

Turkey: Kurdish daily shut down and journalists houses raided

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 08/16/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: EFJ
Categories: Labor News

While Attacking Muni Drivers SF MTA Pushes PR Scam With TWU 250A Leaders

Current News - Tue, 08/16/2016 - 10:05

While Attacking Muni Drivers SF MTA Pushes PR Scam With TWU 250A Leaders
New ad campaign to promote safety of SF Muni operators with TWU Pres Williams in collusion with SFMTA While Operators Are Witch Hunted
http://www.sfexaminer.com/new-ad-campaign-promote-safety-muni-operators/

The ads use quotes not just from Muni operators but also from their apparent family members, urging criminals to avoid targeting bus operators. (Courtesy photo)
By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez on August 16, 2016 1:00 am

A new ad campaign that’s set to roll out from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency targets the safety of an increasingly common victim: Muni operators.

The campaign, which will be launched in conjunction with the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A that represents operators, was revealed to the San Francisco Examiner by the Muni operators’ union in light of the weekend assault of bus driver Carla Romero, 32, of San Francisco.

The ads — 11 drafts of which were shared with the Examiner from the union — use quotes not just from Muni operators but also from their apparent family members, urging criminals to avoid targeting bus operators.

“I get you across town safely, I want to get home safely too,” one ad reads. “Our son gets you to work safely, I want him to get home safely too,” reads another.

The effort to tamp down on assaults traces back to before Romero’s assault, said Eric Williams, head of TWU Local 250-A,Williams, to recent incidents of operators being punched and spat on.

As for Romero, a video showing a physical altercation between Romero and a citizen may exonerate the operator, Williams said Monday.

“She was definitely defending herself,” said Williams of Romero.

Romero told the Examiner she was assaulted by an angry motorist outside the 30-Stockton bus she was driving at Third and Mission streets Saturday morning.

The driver pushed her, she said, then she returned with a punch and he threw her to the ground, beating her. She said he only stopped once she landed a punch on his nose.

Williams said a union shop steward and others reviewed video footage from the operator’s Muni bus. Williams said the video showed it was “very clear” Romero was attacked.

The San Francisco Police Department confirmed both she and the motorist filed a citizen’s arrest against each other, and both were cited for battery.

“Muni operators have a very difficult job and the vast majority do it extremely well,” SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said. “While we fully investigate this matter with SFPD to find out exactly what happened, physical violence should never be an option against these dedicated transit employees.”

Tags: TWU 250ASF MTAinjuriesoshahealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

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