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USA: Over 20,000 AT&T workers are on strike: here's why

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 08/24/2019 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: CWA
Categories: Labor News

Africa: IFJ launches campaign on safety of journalists in Africa

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 08/22/2019 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IFJ
Categories: Labor News

Hong Kong: Cathay Dragon fires flight attendant union chief amid pressure from China

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 08/22/2019 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Free Press
Categories: Labor News

Global: Here’s why trade unions should practice foresight to shape the future of work

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 08/21/2019 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Equal Times
Categories: Labor News

Iran: Nasrin Javadi, labor activist sentenced to 7 years in prison, 74 lashes

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 08/20/2019 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: NCRI
Categories: Labor News

Brazil: 500 days a political prisoner: Free Lula Now!

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 08/19/2019 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

Philippines: Cops disperse Pepmaco strike, arrest workers

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 08/18/2019 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Bulatlat
Categories: Labor News

ILWU Canada honors the 84th anniversary of the Battle of Ballantyne Pier

ILWU - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 09:20

Three generations honor Ballantyne struggle: from left to right, Skip Anderson (Local 514), Ricky Anderson (Local 500), Brock Anderson (Local 502),
and Brian Anderson (Local 514).

On June 18th, over 40 ILWU members, pensioners, and supporters gathered at the Ballantyne memorial at New Brighton Park in Vancouver, BC to commemorate the 84th anniversary of the Battle of Ballantyne Pier and remember the militant history of Vancouver waterfront workers. Recognizing the First Nations Joulene Parent from Local 500 opened the event by acknowledging that the event was held on the unceded land of the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. “We make this recognition at all of our labor events because it is not just history, it is also about moving forward,” Parent said.

Kill a Worker, Go to Jail

ILWU Canada’s Second Vice President, Dan Kask served as the master of ceremonies. He drew attention to the recent 61st anniversary of the collapse of the Iron Workers Memorial Bridge which could be seen just across the river. Nineteen workers died during the accident. Kask then pointed out the banner behind the podium featuring ILWU Canada’s Kill a Worker, Go to Jail campaign. “The purpose of the campaign is to bring awareness to the short-comings of Industrial manslaughter laws in Canada and the lack of enforcement of those laws,’ Kask said. The crowd observed a moment of silence for the workers killed in the bridge collapse and for two ILWU members, Everett Cummings and Don Jantz who were killed on the waterfront in the past year.
“Today means a lot for our union,” said ILWU Canada President Rob Ashton. “It means we are alive and can continue to fight on. Those four letters, ILWU, have given generations of our people something to live for. And as we know in the past, it has been the reason why some people have died—not because they wanted to, but because they stood up for the ILWU. When we stand up for this great union, it means we stand up for the rest of the labor movement. We know what happens when you let your guard down if you relax from the fight—governments, police, and corporations will try and steamroll you even harder and faster. The only way we defend ourselves is with our strength and our solidarity.”

The Battle of Ballantyne Pier

Dave Lomas, Pensioner from ILWU Local 500, who has extensively researched the history of the battle, gave a detailed story of the Battle of Ballantyne. Ballantyne Pier was the site of a pitched battle between 1,000 locked out dockworkers and police in Vancouver, British Columbia, on June 18th, 1935. The Battle of Ballantyne was a part of the long history of militant trade unionism by Canadian longshore workers and ultimately laid the foundation for the formation of ILWU Canada. After a decade of successful organizing and strikes by the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), the employers broke the back of the ILA during a 1923 strike and replaced it with a company union, the Vancouver and District Waterfront Workers’ Association (VDWWA). Workers eventually overcame this tactic by electing their leaders and forcing the union to address their interests and not the employers. In 1935 The Shipping Federation provoked another major strike in the spring of 1935 and locked-out workers at the port at Powell River.
The conflict spread to other dockers in the region. Vancouver longshore workers were also locked-out after they refused to unload ships coming from Powell River. Seattle longshore workers, in an act of solidarity, refused to unload ships coming from Vancouver and Powell River that were loaded by non-union workers. On June 18th, approximately 1,000 longshore workers and supporters marched through Vancouver towards Ballantyne Pier where non-union workers were unloading ships. The workers were blocked at the pier by hundreds of armed police officers. The dockers came under attack from the police and Mounties. Workers were beaten with clubs as they tried to run to safety, while many others tried fighting back, using makeshift weapons. Police attacked the union hall with tear gas where the women’s Auxiliary had set a first aid station. Several people were hospitalized during the three-hour battle, including a worker who had been shot in the back of his legs. The battle was a tactical defeat for the longshore workers, but they continued the struggle to form a union independent of the Shipping Federation, and in 1937 ILWU Canada was born.

Enduring lessons

The 2019 line-up featured several speakers who highlighted the enduring lessons of the Battle of Ballantyne Pier and the dockworkers struggle of that era. “It’s a bloody reminder that the rights we enjoy today are the result of tangible sacrifices made by working people,” said President Laird Cronk of the Vancouver Federation of Labor. “The themes of bad faith bargaining, union-busting, and employer intimidation—these are not just challenges of the past.” “Battle of Ballantyne speaks to the struggle that we go through every day, every time we bargain a collective agreement—in 1935 we saw what a conspiracy between the employer and government coming together to undermine workers looks like,” said Graeme Johnston President of the BC Ferry & Marine Workers Union. “We workers continue to fight in the streets, in the board rooms, in their union halls, to build power and fight back against the employer and to get the rights that they deserve.”

History lesson

President Stephen von Sychowski of the Vancouver & District Labour Council reminded the crowd that future victories are sometimes built on the lessons learned in defeats.
“Change could be delayed, but it couldn’t be stopped because longshore workers continued to fight and ultimately the demands of 1935 were achieved, and the ILWU grew to become one of the largest and strongest unions in our Province,” von Sychowski said. This theme is echoed in the musical, The Battle of Ballantyne Pier, according to director Sherry MacDonald. “Lecture speaks to the mind, but drama speaks to the heart. In The Battle of Ballantyne Pier, you will see every day, average characters fall and get back up again and eventually become stronger for it and this is the story of unionism on the waterfront,” she said. Local 400 member and member of the Young Workers Committee, Kyle Knapton said the key lesson of 1935 was rank-and-file participation in our unions. “What can we take away from this? The only chance we have against the attempts to undermine our rights as workers is to actively participate in our unions,” Knapton said. “The youth need to step forward and get involved at meetings, in committees attend events and continue to fight for our rights that our predecessors gave their lives for.”

Categories: Unions

Long game strategy yields big gain for Bellingham port workers

ILWU - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 09:11

Negotiating committee: (From left to right) Tony Flaherty, Bryson
Tripp and Nick Erb.

ILWU Local 7 Clerical workers at the Port of Bellingham have ratified a three-year contract that covers receptionists, clerks, accountants, secretaries, and operation specialists who work at Bellingham’s seaside port facilities and nearby airport until 2022. The Negotiating Committee was composed of veterans Bryson Tripp and Tony Flaherty – along with recently drafted member and natural horse-trader Nick Erb. Four years ago, Flaherty and Tripp represented the same group of workers and helped secure their last contract negotiated under very different circumstances.

The economy then was still under major duress and some port commissioners were indifferent and recalcitrant. So the bargaining team played the long game by developing a working relationship with the Bellingham community. Enter ILWU Lead Organizer, Jon Brier, who held several trainings and coaching sessions that helped the group discover their power away from the bargaining table. By organizing and uniting the group, Brier helped them identify their natural allies in the community, such as other labor organizations like Jobs with Justice, and in turn, amplify their power at the table with several very public displays of solidarity. With this larger base in the community and with generous help from ILWU retirees like John Munson, the whole bargaining unit soon realized they could punch well above their weight.

The results were better than expected, but still far from what was needed to keep up with Bellingham’s rising cost of living. Since that last round, however, Flaherty, Tripp, and other Port workers kept organizing, building new relationships, and participating in local solidarity efforts. They also researched the Port’s financial situation and gathered data on comparable jobs at other ports in their region. The organizing, solidarity and research paid off big-time in recent bargaining when they negotiated, and members ratified, an agreement to boost wages 18% over four years. Nearly half of the big increase is being delivered in the first year of the contract. Well done Local 7 – way to organize, unite, and fight to win the long game!

Submitted by IBU Puget Sound Regional Director Peter Hart and IBU Puget Sound Passenger Business Agent Ryan Brazeau

Categories: Unions

IBU Members Win Strike at Alaska Marine Highway System

ILWU - Thu, 08/15/2019 - 11:45

Taking action: IBU members picketed the MV COLUMBIA in Ketchikan in late July. IBU workers on the Columbia, Flagship of the Alaska Marine Highway System fleet, were the first to strike this month – and the first to strike 42 years ago when the IBU was forced out in 1977.

By late 2018, the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific had been bargaining for 2 years to secure a contract for 400 workers at the Alaska Marine Highway System. The IBU represents the largest group of employees among several unions that represent public ferry system workers.

On February 19, 2019, the newly elected Governor released his proposed budget that called for cutting the ferry system by more than 1/3, along with slashing other public services in Alaska, including education, senior housing, and community medical aid. As the budget cuts were announced, a group of businesses continued talking about privatizing the public ferry system – talk that continues to this day.

In the last negotiations before the new governor took office, the State gave the IBU a “supposal” for a three-year contract which included 31 tentative agreements – contract changes approved and signed by both parties, along with wage increases of 3%, 1%, 1%, and raising workers’ share of health insurance premiums to 15%.

The State’s offer also included no adjustment to raise wages for crewmembers of the MV Lituya to help them reach parity with workers on other vessels. It also left intact a cost of living differential (COLD) that paid non-resident union members about $4 dollars less per hour than Alaskan residents – although the State agreed in principle to eliminate the COLD differential and boost the MV Lituya wages, but had not yet signed-off on those items. Members were adamantly opposed to approving a contract with higher health premiums. This made it impossible for the union to seek membership approval of the “supposal” package. The State responded by shutting down negotiations hours before the election of Governor Mike Dunleavy.

Background on health insurance

The State offers workers a choice of a standard plan or economy health insurance plans. Those who couldn’t afford the standard plan, which costs members over $350 per month, would choose the economy plan with high deductibles and more out-of-pocket costs, but no premium cost-sharing. When the state demanded IBU members to start paying 15% of the premiums for both plans, members were determined to fight indefinitely. They had also not received a wage increase for 3 years, so this proposal would have set workers back even further.

State offers a 1-year roll-over

When the IBU returned to bargaining under the new governor, the State offered a one year “rollover” of the contract, meaning no changes to the terms and conditions, no wage increases or health increases. We were agreeable to this idea – until they informed us that all 31 of the tentative agreements were now rescinded and off the table. They said we’d have to re-negotiate each of those in the next contract negotiations, a year out. They also made it very clear that there was no guarantee they would agree to the previously negotiated tentative agreements.

This was unacceptable, so we chose to continue bargaining our contract. We felt the State was only surface bargaining – talking with no real intention of reaching an agreement, so we demanded that they provide us with a written proposal by May 15, 2019. They responded with a written proposal that included a one-time lump sum payment of $1000 on January 1, 2021, to offset their proposal requiring members with the economy plan to begin paying part of their health premiums on January 1, 2021. The premium increases amounted to a $60 monthly increase for singles and $160 for a family, so the one-time lump sum would have a short-lived impact, covering only 6 months of higher costs for a family, along with the prospect of more increases in the future. The State “supposal” did include our proposal to increase the wages of crewmembers on the MV Lituya.

Union members vote

Our Negotiations Committee told the State that we could not recommend their proposal but would ask members to vote on it. I rode the MV Columbia as it traveled from Ketchikan to Juneau, to vote the members onboard. Patrolwoman Krissel Calibo flew to Kenai, then rented a car and drove to Whittier where she met the MV Aurora, then went to Homer where she met members working on the MV Tustumena so they could vote. All ballots were then brought to Juneau. Voting for crews on vessels arriving in Juneau were handled by Alaska Regional Director Trina Arnold and myself, who met crewmembers from the MV Tazlina, MV LeConte and MV Kennicott. We joined Executive Committee Vice-Chair Robb Arnold to vote the members of the MV Malaspina. We also offered an online ballot for the members who couldn’t get a paper ballot, including crewmembers of the MV Matanuska. On June 19, 2019, the votes were tallied, with members overwhelmingly rejecting the State’s proposal and authorizing the Negotiations Committee to call a strike.

Union goes into mediation

John Fageaux, President of ILWU Local 63-Office Clerical Unit (OCU), joined our negotiations team to lend assistance. We contacted the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service, requested their help and went into mediation on July 15 and 17. During that process, the State agreed to increase the lump sum to $1500 and offered to include 3 of our 31 tentative agreements, but with no wage increases. After several rounds, the Union gave the State a “last, best and final” proposal – informing them we would strike if they did not respond. We waited until 4:00pm on July 17th and received nothing from the State. We left the meeting to vote our members on this new proposal and prepare for a strike.

Strike after talks broke down

Building public support: Sue Weller (right) is a member of the Inlandboatmen’s Union (IBU) who works on the Alaska Marine Highways System that connects small communities throughout the nation’s largest state. Weller took time-off from her job to sign-up 73 supporters in Wasilla on June 25. The following day she continued the same outreach effort in Anchorage and Palmer. The state’s public ferry system is being attacked on two fronts; devastating budget cuts led by the Governor and a privatization campaign led by corporate and anti-union interests. IBU’s Alaska Region has coordinated campaign efforts to defend the public ferries, using the slogan: “Save Our System” – S.O.S.

When members voted on the State’s final offer, 86% voted to strike. On July 24, 2019, after the MV Columbia arrived in Ketchikan and passengers were offloaded, IBU Patrolwoman Krissel Calibo boarded the ship, and the crew walked-off with pride –marking the beginning of our strike at 2:00 pm. Then the MV Tazlina crew finished offloading in Juneau at 4:30 pm and Executive Board Chair Earling Walli boarded the ship and walked-off with the crew. Regional Director Trina Arnold and Earling then boarded the MV LeConte at 8:30 pm and did the same. Arnold met the MV Malaspina at 3:00 am in Juneau where the crew finished offloading then walked-off the vessel. The MV Matanuska was in the shipyard in Portland. Port Captain Staples from Ketchikan Central Office (KCO) sent word to the Captains to have each IBU member “sign or get off the boat or we are calling reinforcements.”

When the crew refused to sign, they were ordered to vacate the ship and walked-off at 2:00 pm on July 25. Columbia River Regional Director Brian Dodge met with the crew on the next day and helped them organize a picket line outside the Portland shipyard. The MV Kennicott arrived in Ketchikan on July 25 at 3:00 pm and Krissel tried to board the vessel, but State Troopers, requested by the Central Office, wouldn’t let her on the ramp.

The MV Kennicott crew had received an intimidating notice from Captain John Falvey, General Manager of the Ketchikan Central Office, the same notice that was given on the MV Matanuska, asserting that IBU members had to declare whether they were striking or working. He said those who elect to strike would not be paid and ordered the Captains to hand each member the notice. Krissel was finally able to meet the crew outside the tube, near the guard shack at the Vigor Shipyard, and the majority walked-off. The MV Aurora arrived in Valdez on July 24.

We had a phone meeting with the crew and they reported that management offered to leave them on the vessel with pay, but the following day they received the same “strike or work” demand letter, and members walked off the ship as directed by the union. The MV Tustumena arrived in Kodiak on July 24 and received the same demand letter.

On July 25, crew members walked off the ship as directed by the union. Unfortunately, it must be noted that a few crew members did not follow the union’s order to leave the ships. This internal matter will be taken up by the Alaska Region. On July 30, the State sent a letter to members notifying them that their healthcare coverage would end on July 31, if they remained on strike. In addition, the non-union, substandard Inter-Island Ferry Authority (IFA) was pushing to get the MV Lituya moved off the terminal so IFA could run their ferry from Metlakatla to Ketchikan, replacing our service. Southern California Patrolman Mike Vera called upon his friends and family in Metlakatla who joined our members to stand guard on the picket line. There was a tremendous amount of pressure from the employer on members. I am proud to say that IBU members didn’t waiver in their commitment. They were prepared to fight until we got a settlement. And they did so with pride and honor Regional Director Trina Arnold was similarly impressed with the solidarity she saw during the strike.

“It was amazing to watch some of the passengers of the MV Malaspina get off the ship and join our picket line in Juneau at 3:00 am. In fact, the public support continued to grow each day. The cars would honk and wave as they drove by. A taxicab owner lent us one of his cabs to get to and from town. It turns out he was a former member of the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association (MEBA) who used to work with us at the Marine Highway System. People were dropping food off for our picketers up until the end of the strike. Members offered one of the passengers a room in their home because she didn’t have anywhere else to stay. I realize this was hard on our members, but I know we will all treasure the memories we have of the solidarity on our picket lines. We’ll be telling these stories to each other for years to come.”

Solidarity rallies were held on July 29, in Bellingham, Washington, organized by Terri Mast, IBU Secretary Trea surer, and at picket lines in Juneau, Ketchikan, Valdez and July 28 in Kodiak. Solidarity messages were received from Tlingit and Haida First Nations, the Master, Mates & Pilots, Marine Engineers Beneficial Assn., American Radio Assn., Maritime Labor Alliance, International Longshore Association, Sailors’ Union Pacific, Utility Workers Union of America, BC Ferry and Marine Workers Union, Maritime Union of Australia, ILWU International, ILWU Alaska Longshore Division, ILWU Local 200 Alaska, ILWU-PCPA Pensioners, ILWU Local 13, ILWU Local 63 OCU, IBU SF Region, Puget Sound Region, Hawaii Region, Columbia River Region, Southern California Region, Region 37, IBU Longshore, Nakliyat-ls – Trade Union of Revolutionary Workers of Land Airway and Railway workers of Turkey, Transportation Trades Department, Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Kamala Harris. Sara Nelson, International President of Association of Flight Attendants- CWA, AFL-CIO, sent us a message:

“The last Alaska ferry strike was in 1977, but right now workers are standing together and stopping service until they get an agreement after years of negotiations. We stand with IBU and MEBAUNION @ MMPUnion who are honoring the strike in solidarity.”

Resolution and return to work

Beth Schindler, Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, stepped-in as we resumed mediation on July 27 and 28. We made some real progress, but then things stalled and she decided we needed a break. The outstanding issues were the wage increases, health premium sharing for the economy plan, and the remaining tentative agreements – which included many protections for members, plus the COLD differential for non-resident Union members.

By July 30, the political environment was heating-up. Coastal legislators worried that pressure was mounting to get the ferries running. The union returned to mediation July 30, joined by ILWU Secretary-Treasurer Ed Ferris. The State brought in an attorney, Jim Baird, from Chicago, who management had used in the past to get a settlement. We went around the clock trading proposals until 1:00 am, when we broke until 2:00 pm the next day. ILWU President Willie Adams and Vice-President (Mainland) Bobby

Olvera attended to show their support that afternoon. We went back into mediation and traded proposals until we reached a deal at 1:00 am on August 2, 2019. We secured all 31 of the tentative agreements, along with modest wage increases. We limited the premium share to a more modest increase that would affect the economy plan during the last 6 months of the contract, offset by a one-time lump sum payment from the State. We also reduced the non-residential differential by 20%. During our final 2 days of mediation, we had a solid picket line outside our meeting – with supporters who played drums and chanted – refusing to leave until we got a contract.

We heard them say, what seemed like thousands of times: “What do you want? A fair contract! When do you want it? NOW!” President Sara Nelson of the Flight Attendants, sent the following message to us on Friday, August 2, 2019, at 3:00 am, upon hearing we reached a settlement, “Way to go, BREAKING NEWS: Inlandboatmen’s Union (IBU) just arrived at a tentative agreement with Alaska Marine Highway. And I hear it’s a good one! Picket lines are coming down. When we fight, we win!”

A special thank you to everyone who assisted in some way with planning, strategies, political outreach, rallies, messaging and more. Most of all, thank you to our amazing members in Alaska, for without their continued solidarity and commitment, this could not have been achieved. We dared to stand up and fight back at this turbulent time in Alaska, we kept our focus on getting a fair contract and we won!

– Marina V. Secchitano
IBU President

Categories: Unions

Hong Kong: UNI joins calls for the protection of democracy in Hong Kong as protests continue

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 08/14/2019 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: UNI Global Union
Categories: Labor News

Hong Kong: BWI supports Hong Kong mobilization in defence of liberty and autonomy

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 08/13/2019 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: BWI
Categories: Labor News

International solidarity in the fight against automation and outsourcing (Video)

ILWU - Mon, 08/12/2019 - 11:58

ILWU International President Willie Adams traveled to Australia meet with wharfies at DP World in a strong show of international solidarity for the Maritime Union of Australia’s fight against outsourcing, automation, and threats of job cuts.
“Actions speak louder than words. I came here to see the workers of DP World, that’s why I’m here. To support them and stand in solidarity with my brothers and sisters. Because I’m a worker too, I know that feeling, I know what it’s like to struggle,” Adams said.
“My union, the ILWU, and dockers all over the world stand behind you. Stand strong, stand tall, be militant, unapologetic.”
Former ITF chair, and now senator, Tony Sheldon and ITF Dockers’ Section chair Paddy Crumlin also fronted up to throw support behind the workers.

Watch the videos below.

https://www.ilwu.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/69139068_457052401543754_2858620454423984567_n.mp4 https://www.ilwu.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/10000000_723313354789092_4777276344761051733_n.mp4
Categories: Unions

Kazakhstan: Solidarity works: jailed union leader freed in Kazakhstan

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 08/11/2019 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

Kazakhstan: Kazakh union leader freed

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 08/11/2019 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL
Categories: Labor News

Russia: Nestlé Russia union leaders targeted for early dismissal

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 08/10/2019 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IUF
Categories: Labor News

Kazakhstan: President pardons jailed trade union leader Erlan Baltabay

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 08/09/2019 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: KTR
Categories: Labor News

Qatar: Defying the law, migrant workers launch strike

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 08/08/2019 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Human Rights Watch
Categories: Labor News


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