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Canada: Polling confirms gendered impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 04/10/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: NUPGE
Categories: Labor News

ILWU’s COVID-19 resource page

ILWU - Fri, 04/10/2020 - 15:32

Affected by COVID-19?
  • Recently unemployed
  • Reduced hours at work
  • Sick with COVID-19
  • Family member sick with COVID-19
  • School or childcare canceled

If any of the above apply to you, please visit the ILWU’s COVID-19 resource page:   https://www.ilwucovid19support.org/

Categories: Unions

USA: COVID-19 Strike Wave Interactive Map

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 04/09/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Payday Report
Categories: Labor News

Tartine workers launch petition for bakery to recall laid-off workers

ILWU - Wed, 04/08/2020 - 10:15

Tartine workers launched an online petition asking the bakery to recall all laid off Tartine SF & Berkeley workers once restaurants are allowed to be back in operation. 

In an open letter to Tartine Bakery founders Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson as well as chief operating officer Chris Jordan, laid off workers asked “to sit down with Tartine management negotiate how to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on Tartine employees.”

Sign the petition here

Open letter to Liz Pruiett, Chad Robertson, and Chris Jordan,

As you know, the outbreak of COVID-19 has deeply affected the restaurant industry in the Bay Area. We understand that Tartine has been forced to close because of the preventative measures of the government and due to drastically reduced business. These circumstances have caused acute hardship for Tartine workers. Because of that, we are requesting to sit down with management and negotiate how to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on Tartine employees.

Most Tartine workers have now been officially laid off. In the communications we have received from management, we have received no indication that we will have jobs once Tartine locations reopen. Workers thus far have been informed that we may reapply for jobs through the Tartine website when they are posted. This adds a huge amount of stress onto an already stressful situation. For many of us, we are attempting to figure out how to survive the next few months under the assumption that we would have jobs to return to once Tartine reopens. Instead, we have been pushed into an even more uncertain situation. We are proud of the work we do at Tartine, and proud to do our part to make Tartine the internationally renowned name it is – we just want the ability to continue that work.

Workers are also now facing an uncertain situation with regards to our health coverage. Many of us are now losing our jobs during an international pandemic. This is a bad time to not have health insurance. We appreciate that the company has extended benefits to the end of April, but we have no idea how long this emergency situation will last for. We ask that the company do the right thing and extend our healthcare coverage.

For those workers still coming to work at Tartine, they need as much assurance as possible that they will be protected if they need to call out of work. Those who are afraid they may be carrying the virus do not want to endanger their coworkers, Tartine customers, and make a bad situation worse. We need more protection and ability to take care of ourselves, our coworkers, and our community.

We are asking to sit down and negotiate. We are requesting:

– A Recall List of existing employees. All employees who were with Tartine at the time layoff notices were issued will be the first recalled to work, starting with the most senior employee in each classification. Tartine must recall these employees before attempting to hire any other workers. This list will be in effect for one year.
– Tartine extend all of our benefits for four months. Tartine can qualify for a loan under the CARES Act to provide these benefits, and would be subject to loan forgiveness.
– We receive 2 more weeks of paid sick leave.

As this is a public letter, we call on all businesses in the hospitality and food service industry in the Bay Area to follow Tartine’s lead in committing to these three requests. We make the hospitality industry what it is. We are proud to do it and want to continue doing it. This is a time of crisis, and we are asking you to show leadership and do the right thing.

Tartine Union Organizing Committee

Read the SF Chronicle article here

Categories: Unions

Bangladesh: Massive crisis for Bangladesh’ garment workers

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL
Categories: Labor News

Global: COVID-19 causes devastating losses in working hours and employment

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ILO
Categories: Labor News

ILWU women speak out

ILWU - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 16:24

Patricia Aguirre
Local 63 Business Agent

I entered the industry during a transitional period where women were the minority in a male-centric industry. There was still resentment towards women in the ranks from the men. As a woman, I felt I had to prove myself capable of doing longshore work. With every challenge, I have encountered in my 22 years as a member of the ILWU, I have been able to learn and grow as a woman and as a leader and earn the respect of my male counterparts. The ILWU has afforded me the opportunity to evolve and has taught me to find my voice, express it and to empower other members.

My parents were both proud members of the ILWU. My mother showed me the strength a woman can have; she helped to lay the foundation for what it was to be a leader in the ILWU before I was even a member. In the early 90’s she stood up for her rights to organize into the union. She along with one other worker put up a picket line. She is now a retired Local 63 OCU member and I cannot tell you how very proud I am to have her in my life. My father, a walking boss, had a no-nonsense approach to work which guided my work ethic. He had a quote he used to recite: “I am a great believer in luck, the harder I work, the luckier I am.” I guess I got lucky. My father hired me as an estimator in his shop, that was no small thing. He is no longer with us but I know he was proud of me.

The development of ILWU educational workshops and being a mentor to those seeking guidance is what I am the proudest of. The workshops put on by the Coast Longshore Education Committee, Grievance and Arbitration Procedure (GAP) workshops and History and Traditions workshops. My committee is the essence of what the ILWU stands for: representatives of the longshore locals small and large from up and down the West Coast with a variety of experience and talent whose teamwork contributes to our success. All of my experiences in the ILWU merge and contribute to my leadership as a Business Agent. When I see in a member’s face or hear in their voice over the phone that “aha moment” where they get how they can work out an issue about the job or with the employer or our members, this brings me a sense of accomplishment.

To quote the History and Traditions conference: we are the “Caretakers of a Great Inheritance.” It is our job to empower those around us and pay it forward utilizing the tools our for fathers have left us; our contract, the 10 Guiding Principles and the adherence to the Four Objectives of the ILWU. The Union has given us an incredible legacy to pass on, you must be fierce, unafraid, willing to teach but most importantly willing to learn.

Donna Domingo
Local 142 President

I am proud to have served ILWU Local 142 in a leadership capacity for the past 25 years. I made the decision to run for Local Vice President in 2003. A woman in leadership at this level was unprecedented, but I felt empowered to run anyway because at that point I had held many positions at both the unit and Local level and knew the importance of teamwork;\ in the union, nobody does anything alone.

Even though my decision to run drew attention for many reasons, like the fact that I was a woman and from the tourism industry (all Local 142 Titled Officers up until that point had come from the sugar industry), I managed to be elected to the seat of Vice President and served there for three terms. There were so many challenges I faced as the first woman to ever hold this seat, but I knew the importance of breaking this barrier and did not want to let anyone down. I relied constantly on the power of collaboration and learned time and again the importance of communicating with others so the best of everyone can be brought forward.

In 2012, I ran and was elected to the seat of Local President. In that role, I once again found myself only being as good as the efforts of everyone around me, from the Titled Officers and Division Directors of Local 142 to its members. I owe a debt of gratitude not so much to the impact of one mentor in particular, as I do the security I always felt from representing a whole and the underlying democracy of all our protocols. To any woman who wants to break barriers in her organization, I would encourage her to do so not just for herself but for the difference she believes she can make. And to know that kind of intention will always find support in this union.

Viri Gomez
Local 519, Young Worker

My husband was a big influence in my life to be an activist. When I first started on the waterfront, I had heard about some of the history of the labor movement and it all seemed so boring. I was there for a paycheck. But when I went to the first Young Workers’ Conference and saw what the ILWU stands for—what our ancestors had to do for us to get all of the wages and benefits that we have now—I felt like I could be a part of that.

I could leave a legacy. They did so much for us, I needed to do something in return. One of my biggest accomplishments was to help start a Young Workers Committee in my local union. I also got to be a part of the ILWU Canada’s Young Workers Committee. That gave me a voice and visibility. Before that, I was just another person working in a small port in the northern part of Canada.

One of my goals and challenges is how can I influence more young workers? How can I attract more workers to be more active? Also, how can I be a better leader? How can I listen and learn?

I met Joulene Parent once and saw how active she was. I wanted to be her. How does she manage to be everywhere and be present at every event? She was one of my inspirations for being an activist.

As a Youth Representative on the ITF Dockers Section, Youth Committee, I went to Sri Lanka. There was a round table of the first women crane operators in Sri Lanka. That made me realize how easy it is to take for granted how privileged I am living in a First World country.

I am a woman and I have rights. I can fight for my rights if I am not being treated with justice because the law protects me. The Sri Lankan dockworkers were being harassed. They were underpaid and were not being treated with respect. It is very important for women to support other women. We have a lot of rights but not every woman around the world has that. And not everyone is aware of the fights that other sisters in other unions have to fight. If we all get together, we can support each other and accomplish good things. Have more sympathy and try to look farther than what you can see.

Luisa Gratz
Local 26 President

After my son was born, I got a job in a wire factory in East Los Angeles. I had to take two buses each way to work. I was one of two women in the shop and we did the welding. The men ran the lathes. One day, one of our co-workers was killed on the job. I didn’t know much Spanish and my other coworkers didn’t know much English but we were able to communicate enough to sign union cards.

I called the ILWU and I called the UE. The UE called me back. Word got out to management and they called me into the office. They investigated me and had discovered that I had an engineering background and reassigned me to layout a new factory for an adjacent property they had just bought. They threatened to fire me if I didn’t accept the reassignment. I knew what they were doing. They wanted me out of that shop and on top of that, they were getting an engineering job done for minimum wage. The day I finished my drawing was the day of the union election. The union won and I got fired. The union asked if I wanted my job back and I said no. The union later got a contract.

Then in early 1968 got a job at Max Factor which was an ILWU Local 26 shop. They would not allow women in the maintenance department, warehouse or the compounding department. They would not promote Black workers in maintenance either, so we had that fight and finally through an arbitration got a Black mechanic promoted to a lead position.

Women were not allowed to bid into the warehouse or compounding department but we were able to overturn that through the grievance process. I also negotiated an apprenticeship program for the maintenance department and got three women trained as mechanics. I was recruited and elected steward there and after two years, I was elected to the Local 26 Executive Board. I wasn’t looking to get involved at the time. I didn’t want to run for anything but the members of the union kept telling me I had to run. I was talked into running for Business Agent when there was a vacancy after the BA retired. Then in 1984 I was elected President of the local.

There is such inequality in this country that the work of the unions becomes very challenging just to squeeze a few pennies from a person who has millions of dollars. How much is enough for CEOs while workers struggle to pay their bills every month?

What my life is and what I do is a reflection of the city and country. The companies that Local 26 used to represent were manufacturing companies, mining companies, auto parts and more that contributed to our infrastructure, to our schools, to emergency care. Much like in the rest of the country, those jobs have gone away, thanks to automation and trade deals like NAFTA that have made offshoring of jobs easier and more profitable.

I’ve been lucky that the members have asked me to stay. I’ve stayed because I believe in the preamble of the ILWU Constitution. I’ve stayed focused on the membership and keeping the local functioning and defending our health plan and pensions that are threatened by automation and job loss. It’s not about me, it’s about we.

Vivian Malauulu,
Local 13 Benefits Officer

None of the challenges I’ve faced on the waterfront have had anything to do with my ability to get any job done, but rather with resistance for doing it. Women who speak up and stand out are often faced with resistance. When one woman succeeds, all women succeed and the road ahead becomes more manageable, tolerable, and welcoming for the rest of us.

The mentoring that I have received over the years has shaped me into the union sister that I am today. It is noteworthy to mention that studying the mistakes that others have made is just as valuable – if not more – as studying their successes. I have personally had the great fortune of getting advice from solid rank-and-filers since my early days as a casual.

There are dozens, hundreds possibly, of individuals who have influenced me as a longie and as a leader. There are two individuals who stand out:

• Sister Luisa Gratz is the longest standing president of any ILWUlocal as the leader of Local 26 for almost 30 years. She has taught me so much in the 20 years that I have known her. One of the most significant ideals that she instilled in me is to always put the membership first in every decision that I make. She taught me this years ago, andto this day, before doing anything union-related, I always ask myself a series of questions to determine how my actions will affect the membership. She taught me to never back down or out of a tough fight, and to never give up when I know in my heart that I am doing the right thing.

• Our late Brother Dave Arian had a tremendous impact on my development as a union leader. I affectionately refer to him as my “union father” in appreciation for the 20 years of advice that he poured into me. Dave took great care in guiding my union walk and helping me identify opportunities of service both in and out of the union. He taught me to consider every possible option and to analyze every potential outcome. His wisdom about worldly issues that affect the labor movement and our community still echo around me.

I am eternally grateful to both of them for the gifts of their personal friendship and professional mentorship. They both served key roles in my development and journey as an effective union leader. My goal is to pay that forward by being a loyal friend and knowledgeable mentor to my sisters and brothers.

I am very proud of the good reputation that the quality of my work has on the docks, in the boardroom, and in office. Many people consider my election as the first female Benefits Officer of Local 13 to be a big deal, but I think it is a bigger deal that I am regarded as someone who serves the membership responsibly with integrity and humility. It does not matter what my title is, it only matters that my sisters and brothers trust that I am doing a good job working with them, and working for them.

I encourage sisters to get involved early and intentionally. There is something for everyone in our great union. Women should take stock of their abilities and interests and then apply them within their respective locals. As long as women build each other up and support each other, the ILWU will continue to flourish as a place where women are respected for their contributions, and entrusted with leadership.

Joulene Parent
Local 500 Executive

I’ve received mentoring and support from a number of people. A wise person said, “show me your friends and the people around you and I’ll show you, your future.” So it’s important to choose mentors wisely, and quite frankly, sometimes they choose you. Equally important is to not just rely on one person. As with our union, our strength is in the collective wisdom of those around us.

Near and far. From our Local 500 pensioners, Barry Campbell, Ted Grewcutt, Chuck Zuckerman, Tom Dufresne. From Local 514, a number of Gems: who I’m sure want to remain nameless.

From our local Labour community: Joey Hartman, who is our past Vancouver District Labour President, and from the ILWU Women: Donna Domingo, Cynthia Brooke, Angela Talic, Vanessa Neilson, as well numerous Young Workers, past and present. Showing up, IS support, so I want to thank each and every one of them, for showing up!

I remember meeting a woman while flying. She was a tall stunning woman of color, and was flipping through the magazine mid-air. She then stated,” Oh my! Thats me! I helped work on that!” She was part of the NASA crew. I then asked her, how she got to be where she is.

“Did you just have good friends and support?” I asked,

“Nah girl,” she said, It’s all basic math. There are always those who want to take from you, your time, energy resources, even your man…and then there are those who want to add, or multiply to your life. They are introducing you to friends that add to your life, or the potential to multiply whatever it is joy, love, dedication, education. I just chose to surround myself with the adders and multipliers, and get rid of the rest.”

We of the ILWU have that potentiality. Add. Multiply. Our wild cards are the ITF, Local District Labour Councils, Young Workers, Pensioners and community allies. We have the recipe and we have the foundation to put it into action with our constitution and bylaws.

When we know this, it cannot be taken from us by the employer, government, etc. They can try, but we do our multiplication when we Educate, Agitate, and Organize. The Best math of all.

An accomplishment I am proud of was amplifying the Story of the Bows and Arrows, the original Indigenous workers on the Waterfront. I’ve had the opportunity to share this, locally at the Pacific Northwest Labour History Conference, as well as abroad at the Summer Institute of Union Women. It is important to pay respects to the original land keepers, whose descendants are still working among us.

Another accomplishment collectively our union got involved with the Canada’s side of ’United Way Tampon Tuesday Campaign’. Angela Talic was the Executive at the time and was involved in it, on behalf of the local. She asked others to get involved and I said yes. The campaign has since rebranded itself as Period Promise, and has been successful because of the labour movement. It was our collective voice blended with lobbying local governments. It has been so successful.

Now many local schools and communities offer these products free. Workers shouldn’t have to decide between food and other basic necessities for that month or getting menstrual products. Saying “Yes” when the Union/ Community needs help, makes me feel good.

Andrea Stevenson, Welfare Director Washington State ILWU-PMA Benefit Plans

Being a third-generation longshore person was never Plan A for me. When Plan B presented itself, I took the opportunity to take my father’s book in 1992 under the permissive rule.

Now my experiences as a longshore worker hold the deepest, most sincere part of my heart and soul. The ILWU means everything to me. I went full throttle, became active in union politics and have held many elected union positions, such as Local President, Business Agent, Executive Board, Labor Relations, Trustee and Dispatcher.

Now I’m the Area Welfare Director in Washington state for the ILWU-PMA Benefit Plans. I now can help members who raised me up in this industry for the past 28 years. My job is very rewarding, challenging and fast-moving.

I started with longshore “lingo” and training. There was no active training in 1992. I remember someone yelling at me to “go get a “bombcart,” and I thought, “what’s a bombcart?” I remember my first job driving a semi at Pier 5 in Seattle with no earplugs. I picked the worst semi available and drove it for 8 hours. The seat didn’t move forward, there was no two-way radio, and the foreman would just yelling over the ship’s rail and waving paperwork around. I couldn’t tell if he was yelling at me or the guy behind me. My ears were ringing because of the noise and I could not hear a thing! I have plenty of stories but this memory makes me laugh when I think how far we’ve come.

I’m so grateful for my uncle John Finne who literally begged me just to try the work. I appreciate John Wimbish who taught me how to drive semi. He said, “Turn towards the turn!” From that day forward, I could back containers up anywhere. I have to thank Ron Crabtree, Joe Toro, Al Meeds, Al Barnes, Mike Snyder, Joe Ross, John Ross and Ted Farrison; all of whom took the time to show me how to work safely.

And thank you Bob McEllrath who taught me, “Sometimes you may be the only one at the table who believes in your opinion and that’s ok, you stand by your opinion.”

Women on the waterfront are definitely becoming more active in politics as well as various union committees. I’m very happy to see that, but not because they’re women – I’m happy to see anyone who steps up and gets involved on behalf of the ILWU. As the Washington Benefits Coordinator, my phone now rings every day with the craziest situations. There have been several times that I helped a woman sort out a complicated mess, which is the next step to understanding union politics. If I can’t help, I look for an answer. The short of it is, I am willing to help anyone, man or woman.

Dawn Des Brisay
ILWU Local 40

It was difficult being a woman on the waterfront in the beginning, I was 24-years old, when I entered the industry in 1986 through the Child of the deceased Program. At the time, Local 8’s membership consisted of hundreds of men and 11 women.

The older men had definite views about a women’s role, which didn’t include women working on the waterfront. Even when I didn’t feel accepted, I knew the ILWU was fundamentally rooted in loyalty and brotherhood. As the years passed, the union became more inclusive and progressive. I feel fortunate to be a part of that growth.

There have been several people who have supported and encouraged me along the way but probably the most significant event happened in 2002, when President Spinoza and Coast CommitteemanJoe Wenzl asked if I would join the ILWU Legislative Action Committee. That appointment changed the trajectory of my career and I will always be grateful for that.

In 2008, I organized the field effort for the Labor 2008 election program.\The ILWU sent a total 50 members and pensioners to five battleground states to work on the election. This was my first big project.

Working closely with the Coast Longshore Division, ILWU members and pensioners, we won all five battleground senate seats and helped to elect President Obama. It was a rewarding experience.

The best advice I received was to get involved. Run for office, join a committee, participate in the labor community. Because you never know where it will lead. In my case it gave me a voice, a stronger relationship with my peers and a working knowledge of the union.

All members, women and men alike, are encouraged to get involved. Our diverse talents will advance the best interest of the ILWU.

Categories: Unions

CRVS workers and supporters rally in the rain

ILWU - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 12:01

Workers at Columbia River Veterinary Specialists are serious about improving the working conditions and patient care at their animal hospital – so spirits at their rally on February 15 weren’t damped by the downpour.

“We’ve got more important problems than a little rain,” said Kat Bennett, who is a Veterinary Technician at the hospital where workers voted overwhelmingly to join the ILWU and are now negotiating their first union contract.

The rally in front of the animal hospital was well-attended and people were in high spirits despite the rain.

Besides the good showing the CRVS workers, additional support came from the members of the National Veterinary Professionals Union, Jobs with Justice, the Inlandboatmen’s Union, ILWU Local 40, the Young Workers Committee at Local 23 in Tacoma, ILWU Local 5, #TeamNWVS and the Communication Workers of America. Special guests included doctors who work at the hospital and are supporting the effort to improve conditions inside the facility, along with former CRVS employees.

“We held signs, chanted and waved to all the drivers who were incredibly friendly as they passed by,” said Annie Pressler, Veterinary Technician. “They showed support by honking their horns and sometimes even gave us a raised fist in solidarity.”

The animal care workers took turns practicing on the bullhorn, leading chants and calling out the company to improve conditions.

A growing number of veterinary hospitals – including CRVS – are now owned by national corporations, including PetVet, formed in 2012 with headquartered in Connecticut and 125 locations around the country. Five years later in 2017, PetVet was acquired by the Wall Street hedge fund KKR, in a leveraged buyout.

The CRVS workers’ bargaining team met recently to finalize their updated wage proposal. They told PetVet that picketing would be suspended while management considers the proposas they consider their next offer. Depending on the company response, workers may decide to escalate further with another rally where news media are invited. Other ideas are also in the works in case additional steps are needed.

“The power dynamic between big corporations and workes is enormous, but unionizing has given us a voice at the negotiating table and made a big difference,” says Mary Gregory, a Surgical Instrument Tech. “We’ve made progress and gained improvements through our negotiations – and we have solid support from the professional staff, our clients and so many groups in the community. I’m excited about what the contract will ultimately mean for our workplace.”

Categories: Unions

How to help Local 5 members impacted by Coronavirus

ILWU - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 11:26

Hundreds of ILWU Local 5 members working at Powell’s Books in Portland were laid off due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has forced many retail businesses to close temporarily. The company is not providing any severance, continuation of health coverage or other measures to help lessen the impact of the closure on workers.

In repose to the closure, Local 5 issued the following statement:

“In ILWU Local 5, the union representing Powell’s Books employees since 1999, appreciates the decision to close the retail locations of the bookstore. The safety of workers and customers is always of paramount concern, especially given the current global pandemic. As with most emergencies, those that suffer the most are workers and marginalized communities. We do not believe this to be appropriate or fair and in this moment we continue to urge all Employers, including Powell’s Books, to continue to support workers in any and every way possible.

The loss of profit is nothing compared to the lifelong trauma such a loss of income and benefits are likely to have for individuals. ILWU has a long time saying we live by: “An Injury to One Is An Injury To All”. We call upon all to make this moment count and support everyone in our community in every way we can.”

Local 5 members working at Aramark and Growing Seeds are also experiencing layoffs and some veterinary pet care workers are having their hours cut.

You can contribute directly to the ILWU Local 5 Coronavirus worker relief fund at https://bit.ly/2wXrYHh or by visiting the Local 5 website at https://ilwulocal5.com/

Categories: Unions

Canada: Public services in a global pandemic? Priceless

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 04/06/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: CUPE
Categories: Labor News

Global: Global labour unions organise for a post-pandemic world

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 04/06/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Equal Times
Categories: Labor News

ILWU delegation builds solidarity at international rank-and-file conference in Australia

ILWU - Sat, 04/04/2020 - 09:45

ILWU International officers led a delegation to the Maritime Union of Australia’s National Conference during the first week of March. The event attracted over 500 rank and file union delegates, including International President Willie Adams, Vice President (Mainland) Bobby Olvera Jr., Secretary-Treasurer Ed Ferris, Local 13 Secretary-Treasurer Mark Williams, Local 19 President Rich Austin Jr., Local 22 member Jairus Brenneise, Local 23 President Jared Faker along with members John Stagg and Brock Graber, and longtime pensioner Rich Austin.

Quadrennial Conference

The MUA Conference is held every four years and includes a tradition of inviting the ILWU and other maritime unions from around the globe. It’s part of a solidarity tradition that pre-dates the MUA’s 2018 affiliation with Australia’s

Construction Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union. With the MUA now one of four CFMEU Divisions, their combined forces now total over 144,000 workers. That’s still just one-percent of Australia’s workforce, but the union’s power is magnified by their militant stance against injustice and advocacy for the country’s working class.

Understanding “Tjungu”

The conference theme was Tjungu, a word used by native people living in the continent’s western deserts, as a way to express the idea of unity and coming together.

The MUA has made a determined effort in recent years to embrace the cause of native Australians and address the many injustices they have suffered. The union created a new position on their Executive Board for a National Indigenous Officer, currently held by native leader Thomas Mayor.

“Tjungu is unity,” he said. “That’s also how we’ve fought-off conservative governments and fought for workers’ rights.”

Delegates were welcomed to the Conference by Yugambeh Traditional Landowners of the Gold Coast, MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin rose to remind everyone about the appalling treatment experienced by Australia’s indigenous people.

“After 200 years of genocide, murder, imprisonment, taking away your rights, it is up to our generation to set things right,” he said – reaffirming the union’s support for constitutional changes supported jointly by native groups and the MUA..

“We don’t want any more deaths in custody or stolen children stripped from their families and cultures,” he said. “What we are meaning to do this week is to come together with one voice, in the spirit of Tjungu that resonates here and beyond.”

Crumlin, who sounded at times like Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, attacked policies led by conservative governments in Australia and other nations that have allowed elites to flourish at the expense of the 99 percent.

“How is it that a handful of billionaires have come to own half of the world’s wealth,” he asked.

“Two thousands of the world’s billionaires now have more money than 4.6 billion men and women on this planet,” he said. “Our health care is being privatized, our communities are being privatized and the water we drink is being privatized.”

“Workers face poverty, war and virus pandemics. They face fire and flood induced by climate change. Politicians have failed us, shipping is deregulated, ports are being privatized.

The land we stand on was just burnt to the ground after indigenous people successfully nurtured it for centuries.”

“The conservative government in our country and many others has disregarded global warming because the big end of the town doesn’t want anything to stand in the way of their profits,” he said. Crumlin concluded by calling for a “just transition” that provides workers with good-paying jobs in renewable industries.

MUA National President Christy Cain spoke, using the conference theme of Tjungu to explain their effort to consolidate Australia’s militant unions into a tighter federation.

“We amalgamated for a number of reasons but the main reason was strength,” he said. “We are one powerful union that is proud to lead the struggle for the working class in this country.”

A similar theme was sounded by nation’s Council of Trade Unions Secretary Sally McMannus. She posed a series of tough questions: “How come there is so much wage theft? Why do we have record low wage growth? Why is inequality getting worse? Maybe it’s because 50% of Australian workers used to have a union and no only 15 percent do.” She said a series of conservative governments had ripped apart worker protections and attacked unions without mercy.

Manus also blamed billionaires in Australia for threatening to destroy democracy, comparing the tycoons in her country with ones in America who are also buying elections with unlimited campaign spending.

An even broader perspective was offered by Steve Cotton, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers Federation that links together hundreds of unions across the globe. He noted the challenge of automation that threatens drivers, dockworkers, warehouse workers and others in millions of jobs that could disappear with no concern for workers and their families.

Together with Paddy Crumlin, who also serves as ITF President, Cotton says the ITF network has launched a more militant strategy to fight for workers’ rights globally – a move that’s attracting more unions to join the organization.

“The global supply chain is where we need to strengthen our position,” said Cotton. “We supported Paddy to change the face of ITF. We wanted to capture the MUA spirit and bring that to a global labor movement. We now have nearly 20 million members – the highest in years. ”

Crumlin, in his remarks, said the fight against corporate greed must be front and center.

“We took-on Chevron on with our Western Australia comrades,” he said. “We went after that company and made them pay up a $800M tax bill,” he added. “Steve and I put action back in the ITF, not just words,” said Crumlin.

“Together with the ILWU, the MUA ILWU delegation builds solidarity at international rank-and-file conference in Australia has turned the ITF into a fighting international force for the rights and justice of the international working class.”

ILWU International President Willie Adams took the podium to explain the struggle in the U.S., emphasizing the need to “look forward” and “build strong bonds of solidarity.”

Adams said “the MUA conference came at a watershed moment in the history of unions around the globe. There was a strong presence from North American unions including the ILWU and ILA. There was good dialogue, painful conversations and solidarity from the ITF, IDC, MUA, Maritime Union of New Zealand and Dutch Dockers Union, the FNV.”

“It’s about moving forward,” said Adams, ”and not looking in the rearview mirror. For the first time, we were all under the same roof and had to get over ourselves.” Adams thanked members of the ILWU delegation for their participation and show of solidarity.

The conference adjourned on March 6 after four full days of meetings.

Categories: Unions

Zimbabwe: Unions warn of looming COVID-19 catastrophe in Zimbabwe

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 04/03/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriAll website
Categories: Labor News

Dominican Republic: Workers’ brigades distribute thousands of COVID-19 food packs

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 04/03/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: BWI
Categories: Labor News

COVID19 becomes a medical and economic disaster

ILWU - Fri, 04/03/2020 - 10:57

As The Dispatcher was going to press in March, the COVID19 virus had become a global pandemic, claiming 27,000 lives worldwide and making the US the most-afflicted nation on earth with 185,000 confirmed cases and a domestic death toll of 3,800 and rising. Washington State and California are the West Coast hotspots, but the COVID19 virus has now spread to all 50 states. Eighty percent of Americans are living under “shelter-in-place” orders issued by state governors after the federal government failed to act.

President Trump ignored advice from public health experts to prepare ahead and act early. Instead, the President delayed and minimized the threat until the virus spread throughout the United States and shortages of ventilators and face masks led to chaos in hospitals – forcing doctors, nurses and other health workers to be needlessly infected.

As usual, workers were paying the highest price for incompetence at the top, with record-breaking numbers filing unemployment claims, and the prospect of widespread evictions, foreclosures and mounting personal debt.

Trump cuts protection

Today’s disaster has roots going back two years, to February 1, 2018 -the day that President Trump slashed vital programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those programs were created to stop epidemics in 39 high-risk countries, including China.

Key programs eliminated

The programs Trump cut were part of a global health security effort, designed to stop dangerous disease outbreaks in other countries before they reach the US. The program trained front-line workers how to detect dangerous outbreaks and improved local laboratory and emergency response teams where the risk of disease was highest. The goal is to stop future outbreaks at their source to prevent small outbreaks from becoming global pandemics. 

Painful history lesson

Public health officials have long advocated for strategies to prevent disease, beginning at the turn of the 20th century when most workers and their families lived near open sewers and drank water contaminated by human waste and industrial pollution. Scientists had to fight to be heard over objections from factory owners who resisted reform efforts. Opportunist politicians inflamed public fear with racist appeals against the so-called “moral-failings” of various racial and ethnic groups of workers who were blamed for spreading disease, including African-Americans, Chinese, Mexicans, Irish and Italians.

Labor & public health together

It seems obvious today that sanitary sewage systems and clean drinking water are cornerstones of public health and disease prevention, but it was far from obvious at the beginning of the 20th Century. It took a movement, led by a coalition of labor organizers, immigrant rights workers, doctors and scientists, and outraged women – who along with African Americans – had no rights to vote or hold public office.

These reformers led campaigns against a long list of diseases including typhoid, polio, tetanus, diphtheria, scarlet fever and malaria – many of which were eliminated through battles for better housing, clean water and sanitation, universal public education and voting rights.

Many progressive labor organizers saw public health advocates as natural allies because both were fighting to improve conditions for the entire working class, most of whom lived in wretched conditions and faced lethal diseases on a daily basis – when not working in factories filled with children who labored in dangerous conditions.

Conservative labor leaders at the time were of little help – often aligning themselves with racist politicians who delivered crumbs of patronage in exchange for votes and bribes.

Roosevelt’s public health plan

By the time Franklin Roosevelt took office in 1933 during the Great Depression, many cities had installed sanitary sewers and cleaner water systems. Public health departments with nurses were on city payrolls. New disease prevention measures included immunizations, quarantines, nutritional education for new mothers and other efforts to help children. All these and more programs exploded under Roosevelt’s “New Deal” programs that built thousands of parks, playgrounds, water treatment and sewage plants, flood control, rural electrification, plus farm and nutrition programs that helped both rural and urban Americans.

Bi-partisan agreement

For 75 years after Franklin Roosevelt’s administration, presidents from both parties have supported public health programs, including ones designed to stop disease outbreaks in other countries from spreading around the globe and threatening America.

Pay a little now or lot later

The COVID19 pandemic is far from over, but some lessons are already clear:

• Preventing a pandemic is much easier than battling one that’s out of control.

• Strong and decisive governmental action is required to fight a pandemic.

• A poorly-managed pandemic causes enormous harm to workers and their families.

With thousands of ILWU members now out of work because of Trump’s bungled COVID19 response, attention will soon shift to the November election, where his handling of the pandemic response could be a key factor for many voters.

Categories: Unions

Spain: Coronavirus lockdown destroys jobs at record pace in 'paralyzed' Spain

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 04/02/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Financial Post
Categories: Labor News

Australia: Nationwide virtual picket line calls for no worker to be left behind

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 04/02/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: UWU
Categories: Labor News


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