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ILWU LEGISLATIVE REPORT: How Trump’s COVID-19 response caused needless deaths & economic damage – and what we can do about it

ILWU - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 14:53

Our union’s legislative staff in Washington are working with the International Officers to help ILWU families cope with the COVID-19 pandemic that’s causing so much death, job loss and economic hardship for working families.

It didn’t have to be this way. Since Trump took office over three years ago, he repeatedly cut funds for public health, pandemic response and the Center for Disease Control. These cutbacks weakened our nation’s pandemic response team and ended a program that tracked disease outbreaks in China. He also ignored multiple congressional directives to increase our national stockpile of emergency medical supplies – along with calls to protect transportation workers in the supply chain from a pandemic.

His reckless spending cuts made the COVID-19 outbreak much worse when it arrived early this year, leaving us with two painful conclusions:

Pubic health programs are wise investments that our country needs to save lives and protect our economy – including 40 million good jobs for working families that have vanished. The President’s refusal to follow public health guidelines made the pandemic much worse, confirmed in a new study showing that over 30,000 lives would have been saved if Trump had listened to experts and acted just one week earlier to encourage “shelter-in-place” guidelines. Over 50,000 would be alive today if he’d acted just two weeks earlier.

Second, we’re reminded that health care for every American should be a basic human right – because losing it causes both personal pain and damage to our economy, especially during a pandemic.

Before COVID-19 hit, Trump took away health coverage from seven million Americans. Now with 40 million Americans unemployed, 27 million of them have lost their health insurance. This means millions of Americans are much less likely to be tested or see a doctor and much more likely to spread the virus and/or be harmed by it.

The President wants us to believe that the COVID-19 problem can be solved by “opening the economy” – just in time for his re-election campaign – but scientists say the facts tell a different story:

  • The number of COVID-19 deaths will grow 50% by August to 150,000.
  • Those numbers will continue to increase if Trump “opens” the economy without protecting workers and the public.
  • The number of COVID-19 cases is already rising in a dozen states, including some where virus controls are being eased.

Trump’s unwillingness to rely on health experts and admit mistakes – while spreading rumors and false claims about cures and treatments – has also made the pandemic worse:

  • In late January, top Trump advisor Peter Navarro warned the President that COVID-19 could cost trillions in economic damage and kill many Americans.
  • On February 25, Trump told a news conference that the coronavirus is “well under control” and there are “very few people with it.”
  • The same day, his top economic adviser Larry Kudlow told CNBC that the U.S. had “contained” the coronavirus and it was unlikely to become a “tragedy.”
  • Trump later tweeted, “Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.… Stock Market starting to look verygood to me!”
  • A follow-up Tweet from the President said: “the risk to the American people remains very low. … When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero. That’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”

Since then, Trump has bragged that “anyone who wanted a test could get one,” and claimed the U.S. was doing a better testing job than any country in the world.

While the President was making those claims, frontline health and supply chain workers, including ILWU members – weren’t always getting the personal protective equipment they needed.

In the face of these two disasters –the COVID-19 pandemic and the Trump presidency – ILWU International officers and the Washington, DC legislative staff have been fighting to secure emergency relief for the unemployed and vulnerable, with better protection for essential workers.

ILWU leaders have gone into overdrive, holding calls almost daily to direct the union’s lobbying operation – reaching out to senior elected leaders and federal agency heads, and leading coordinating campaigns with other maritime labor organizations and port industry stakeholders. Like everywhere else, COVID-19 physical distancing rules have complicated advocacy in Washington DC, because congressional staff are now working from their homes and Congress members have been reluctant to gather after a number tested positive and were sickened by the virus. Most federal agencies have also sent workers home until the COVID- 19 rates drop. These obstacles have not stopped the ILWU leadership from working 24-7 through emails, texts and calls to reach key congressional staffers and agency officials.

The House and Senate have already sent four separate emergency relief packages to Trump’s desk to address the coronavirus emergency. The first relief bill provided emergency funding to federal agencies that were responding to the pandemic. The second provided money to hospitals, state and local governments and small business loans. This second bill also required some midsized companies to provide workers with paid sick leave during the crisis.

It quickly became apparent that the first three relief packages fell short of helping all the workers and companies who needed assistance. The need became clear when tens of millions started losing their jobs as businesses closed. This led to the $2.2 trillion package, called CARES, which extended unemployment benefits, covered many independent contractors and added $600 per week to unemployment benefits through July 31.

Congress also created the Paycheck Protection Program that offered forgivable loans to help businesses with under 500 employees continue their payrolls during the COVID 19 crisis. The CARES Act also included a stimulus check of $1200 per adult and $500 per child in a household. Local transit agencies, including ferry operators on the West Coast and Alaska, received over $26 billion – money that is helping many members of the Inlandboatmen’s Union (IBU) remain on the job.

An “interim” relief bill costing over $480 billion was passed shortly after the CARES Act to cover more employees working at small businesses, provide help to hospitals, and pay for widespread testing. The $25 billion testing program will finally establish a national workplace COVID-19 testing system and provide additional money for protective equipment. This last allocation should help ILWU members who return or remain on the job.

Along with these programs intended to help workers and small business was a demand from the Trump Administration for a $500 billion corporate bailout fund. Without a labor-friendly majority in Congress, it was impossible to stop Trump from giving these public dollars to corporations that have been earning record profits and rewarding top executives – while skimping on worker pay and benefits. The ILWU supported labor-friendly legislators who were able to add a few safeguards, including an Inspector-General to protect funds from being abused – a measure Trump immediately dismissed and tried to weaken. The ILWU and worker advocates also succeeded in passing a measure barring executives from collecting corporate bonuses if they took any bailout money.

As the economic damage from COVID-19 continued to mount during the month of May, a worker-friendly-majority in the House of Representatives passed a bill on May 15, which included many ILWU priorities. Work is now underway to make progress in the Senate, where worker-friendly members are in the minority and face opposition from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who says he will oppose any further aid for working families. Despite his opposition, the ILWU will continue working with labor-friendly representatives to advance these provisions in the bill

passed by the House

  1.  A bonus of up to $10,000 for longshore workers, maritime workers and other essential workers who are risking their lives to keep the supply-chain open.
  2. Automatic enrollment in the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation program for longshore workers who are diagnosed with COVID-19.
  3. An additional $16 million to the Federal Transit Administration that would help ferry systems survive the crisis.
  4. Assistance to ILWU members who have difficulty paying rent during the crisis.
  5.  A temporary ban on credit agencies from reporting negative information about worker finances during the crisis.
  6. Short term relief for ILWU pension plans during the downturn. Despite facing the most anti-union President in many decades, ILWU leaders will continue advocating to help workers survive the COVID-crisis with support for families as we try to rebuild our country.

“The ILWU has faced opposition from anti-union forces in the past and we didn’t back down. We won’t back down,” said International President Adams. “We will keep pushing to make more progress in Washington – despite opposition from the White House and Senate.”

This report was compiled by ILWU Legislative Director Lindsay McLaughlin and Legislative Consultant Kyle Mulhall

Categories: Unions

ILWU responds to a triple crisis:

ILWU - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 10:38
• George Floyd murder launches national action • COVID-19 death toll in U.S. claims over 100,000 lives • Trump threatens to block voting & deploy military International Officers & Executive Board take action

Black Lives Matter: Thousands of Bay Area activists participated in a car-caravan protest on May 31 that went by
the Port of Oakland to protest the police killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police. The killing has sparked ongoing
protest in over 140 cities affecting every state in the union. Photo by Brooke Anderson

Americans were already reeling in late May from the COVID-19 pandemic that claimed its 100,000th victim – the highest death toll in the world – and pushed over 40 million out of work – made worse by a chaotic, bungled federal response.

The pandemic was still raging out of control on May 25 when a group of four Minneapolis Police officers were caught on a cell phone video brutally murdering George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man who suffered a painful  horrifying death that lasted almost nine minutes. The incident triggered nationwide protests that were continuing as The Dispatcher went to press.

“America is facing our largest and most challenging crisis in decades,” said ILWU International President Willie Adams. “Our response must be thoughtful, determined and guided by our union’s principles of justice and racial equality,” he said.

Strongly-worded response

The ILWU responded immediately to Mr. Floyd’s murder with a strongly-worded letter sent by President Adams on behalf of ILWU members to Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, State Attorney General Keith Ellison, and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo.

The letter called for the police officers responsible to be charged and tried for murder, noting that the ILWU, “…has a rich history of fighting for racial and social justice. We cannot sit back and watch the same scene unfold time and time again.”

(See the full text of President Adams’ letter here.)

The ILWU followed-up with a letter sent to Mr. Floyd’s family, conveying condolences on behalf of the union’s membership and expressing solidarity with the suffering and hardship inflicted on the family and the nation.

“The ILWU has a long and proud history of fighting for racial and social justice and our union stands in solidarity with you today. We will continue to fight for a world in which black and brown people do not have to live in fear. We will continue to fight for a world where everyone can live with dignity and respect. We will continue to demand justice for Brother Floyd.”

(See the complete letter to Mr. Floyd’s family here.)

Movement for Black Lives

Protesters across the country responded to Mr. Floyd’s murder, including ILWU members and leaders, who participated in predominantly peaceful demonstrations. Many of these actions were organized by the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), a growing national network led mostly by young people of color.

Military against protesters

President Trump chose to ignore the vast majority of peaceful protesters and focus instead on the tiny number of violent actors, in order to justify a broad new “law and order” campaign to violently suppress peaceful demonstrators.

The President also threatened to send U.S. armed forces into America’s cities and towns. In Washington, DC, the President’s team sent dozens of armored vehicles onto city streets, put military helicopters into the air with instructions to intimidate protesters and readied thousands of troops to march on protesters with bayonets fixed on automatic weapons.

Voter suppression

Political analysts said President Trump was involving the military and smearing peaceful protesters in order to gain votes for his troubled re-election campaign. The President seemed to confirm his political motives by also launching a campaign to block states from encouraging voters to cast ballots by mail – now a practical necessity because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trump threatened to withhold funds from states who encourage vote-by-mail, falsely claiming that mail ballots are somehow more likely to be fraudulent. In fact, voting-by-mail has long been used successfully in dozens of states, with no evidence that it is in any way associated with fraud.

Military leaders draw the line

Trump, who dodged the draft with five deferments because of “bone spurs,” surrounded himself with military brass from the beginning of his term, calling them, “my generals.” Some of those, including General Mattis who served as Trump’s Defense Secretary, are now criticizing the President as a danger to the nation.

ILWU leaders take action

On May 11, the ILWU International Executive Board (IEB) held a special meeting – on Zoom video because of the COVID-19 pandemic – to address the nation’s political circumstances and choose the best candidate to help working families and union members in the November Presidential election. After a brief discussion, Board members voted overwhelmingly to endorse former Vice President Joe Biden for President. Three Board members voted against the endorsement.

Statement of Policy adopted

A Statement of Policy concerning the Presidential election was adopted by the Executive Board. It began by outlining the challenges facing American workers and the need for new leadership in the White House:

“As the nation faces the weight of an ongoing pandemic, the corrosion of labor law, environmental protection, budget cuts in education, public services, growing tolerance of racism and gender prejudice, the collapse of the health care system, and ongoing economic recession, there has never been a more urgent time to defeat Donald Trump than in this presidential election. Vice President Joe Biden is the only candidate for the task of uniting Americans and other candidates. He has a solid record of supporting working families and their interests. We are confident the Vice President will support sensible tax policies (rather than tax cuts for the one-percenters); public education (rather than charter schools and vouchers); expanded health care coverage; reform of our labor laws, fairer trade agreements, and reasonable immigration policies.

“Over the past several months, Vice President Biden has demonstrated a remarkable ability to campaign and activate voters. His campaign, once thought to be moderate, stormed back to build an insurmountable lead in the Democratic Party forcing the other candidates to drop out in unity and endorse him for President. His electability is critical if we are to have any hope of removing the current occupant of the White House. Simply said, we need a candidate who can beat Donald Trump in November and Vice President Joe Biden is that candidate at this time in U.S. history.”

See the complete Statement of Policy here. 

Other IEB action taken on May 11 Local 142 member Denise Sherman was sworn-in by President Adams as a new member of the International Executive Board for Hawaii.

It was also announced that the August IEB meeting in Canada has been canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The next International Executive Board meeting will be held on June 18-19, again using Zoom internet video because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Categories: Unions

Global: This time standing in solidarity is just not enough

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 06/10/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL
Categories: Labor News

Mexico: Top Mexican labour lawyer arrested after activism in US-owned factories

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 06/10/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Guardian
Categories: Labor News

ITF solidarity statement with Alaska Longshore workers (Unit 60)

ILWU - Wed, 06/10/2020 - 10:05
400,000 dockers stand with Seward, Alaska in condemning Possehl Erzkontor and Alaska Logistics

Photo by Suzi Ramsey Towsley

The ITF Dockers, representing 400,000 dock workers worldwide, stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Seward, Alaska, represented by International Longshore and Warehouse Workers Union (ILWU Unit 60).

We condemn the actions by Possehl Erzkontor GmbH (Peter Cremer) and Alaska Logistics, who have recently hired non-union, out-of-state longshore workers to perform jobs historically done by members of ILWU Unit 60. The actions of Alaska Logistics are nothing short of union-busting.

We further condemn the arrest of the five members of the ILWU for picketing and charged by the Seward Police for civil disobedience, simply because they were defending good community jobs. We call for charges to be dropped, and for the police to recognise the rights provided under the first amendment of the United States Constitution.

Never in our lifetime have we seen such economic uncertainty – the highest economic inequality, record levels of unemployment, and an attack on union rights. Alaska Logistics, in hiring workers on substandard wages, threatens the economic livelihood in Seward. For decades, the hard work of the sisters and brothers of the ILWU, along with their economic buying power, has helped small business and the local community prosper. This is now at stake.

Paddy Crumlin, ITF President and Dockers’ Section Chair, said: “Alaska Logistics must be held accountable for their union busting. The local politicians need to intervene to stop this race to the bottom by ensuring that the work is done by qualified longshore workers.

“Further, the arrest of five longshore workers is abhorrent, these men and women were standing up for their community. We will continue to stand with our sisters and brothers from ILWU Unit 60 until Alaska Logistics reverses it course.

“Possehl Erzkontor GmbH (Peter Cremer) and Alaska Logistics must be held accountable, it is time for Possell Erzkontor to intervene to ensure that no further harm is done to the workers’ community,” said Paddy Crumlin.

Categories: Unions

Daily Breeze: Dockworkers in San Pedro-Wilmington-Long Beach join in George Floyd tribute Tuesday

ILWU - Wed, 06/10/2020 - 09:39

Workers at APM Terminals on Pier 400 in the Port of Los Angele were among International Longshore and Warehouse members paying tribute to George Floyd Tuesday, June 9, on the day he was laid to rest. Photo by Robin Doyno

Dockworkers all along the West Coast stopped work for nine minutes at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, Jun 9, to honor George Floyd on the day he was being laid to rest.

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed May 25, in Minneapolis when a white police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes. That officer was charged with second-degree murder, and three other officers face lesser charges as well. Floyd’s death, meanwhile, set off a wave of protests nationwide against racial injustice and police brutality.

Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union participated in Tuesday’s tribute at APM Terminals, on Pier 400, in the Port of Los Angeles. Local union members work at both the LA port and the Port of Long Beach.

“Our union has a long history of confronting racism on the job, in our communities and around the world,” said ILWU International President Willie Adams. “Today we’re joining millions of people who are demanding justice and fundamental change.”

Read the Daily Breeze article here.

Categories: Unions

ILWU, ILA dockers stop work to honor George Floyd, call for racial justice

ILWU - Tue, 06/09/2020 - 13:05

ILWU members up and down the West Coast stopped worked 9 minutes this morning to honor George Floyd who was killed by officers from the Minneapolis Police Department. The event in Los Angles pictured here was organized by Local 63 Business Agent Patricia Aguirre, Local 13 Business Agent Andy Kustic, and Local 13 Business Agent Mickey Main. Photo by Robyn Doyno, Local 13.

Today thousands of American transport workers from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) are stopping work and calling for justice for George Floyd and countless others who suffered before him.

The ILWU members are stopping work for nine minutes – the same amount of time George Floyd’s neck was knelt on by the Minneapolis police officer who murdered him, while Mr. Floyd begged for his life. At the same time our sisters and brothers from the ILA are holding peaceful protests in their docks for an hour.

America’s maritime unions have a proud history of fighting injustice at home and abroad. In a statement the ILWU Longshore Division declared that “It’s time for the ILWU, in keeping with our history of fighting for racial and social justice, to be heard.”

ILWU International President Willie Adams said “Our union has a long history of confronting racism on the job, in our communities and around the world,”

“Today we’re joining millions of people who are demanding justice and fundamental change. The union calls on all elected officials in local, state, and the federal government to open their eyes and hearts, to initiate real change in our current system, and root-out institutionalized racism and police brutality that have plagued our country and our citizens for far too long.  ”

ILA International President Harold J. Daggett, said “Together we will shut down our cranes and computers; power off our equipment to pause and reflect on how we can find a way to be better as individuals and a country where all citizens should be guaranteed the same respect, freedoms and liberties.”

Racial justice is union business.

From the ITF

Categories: Unions

ILWU dockworkers take action Tuesday morning to honor George Floyd and support racial justice

ILWU - Mon, 06/08/2020 - 20:20

 

ILWU dockworkers on the West Coast will stop work for nine minutes on Tuesday morning, June 9th, at
9 a.m. Pacific Time, to honor George Floyd who was brutally murdered by four Minneapolis Police officers
on May 25th.

“Our union has a long history of confronting racism on the job, in our communities and around the world,”
said ILWU International President Willie Adams, “Today we’re joining millions of people who are
demanding justice and fundamental change.”

Adams says that unions have a special role to play in this case.

“Our responsibility in this moment runs deeper than usual because one part of the system that protects the
officers involved in Mr. Floyd’s death is a union: the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis,” explained
Adams. He noted that the president of the Minneapolis police union has a history of racism and complaints
of violence – the opposite of the goals of the ILWU and the Labor Movement, which are rooted in the fight
for racial equality and justice. “There’s no place in the Labor Movement for any leader who defends the
kind of depraved act that murdered Mr. Floyd,” said Adams.

The ILWU’s June 9th action honoring Mr. Floyd, adds to the chorus of voices protesting police brutality
and systemic racism. The ILWU joins with a growing number of labor groups who are calling for
the immediate resignation of the president of the Minneapolis police union.

The ILWU condemns all forms of racism, and states in no uncertain terms: Black Lives Matter. The union
calls on all elected officials in local, state, and the federal government to open their eyes and hearts, to
initiate real change in our current system, and root-out institutionalized racism and police brutality that
have plagued our country and our citizens for far too long.

(PDF)

Categories: Unions

Global: 15 June is International Justice Day - Don't Call Us Heroes - Join Our Fight!

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 06/08/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: UNI Global Union
Categories: Labor News

ILWU leaders attend memorial service for George Floyd (video)

ILWU - Mon, 06/08/2020 - 13:09

ILWU International Secretary-Treasurer Ed Ferris and International Executive Board member Melvin Mackay were interviewed by local television station KHOU in Houston.  Ferris and Mackay, along with Local 19 member Tyrone Harvey, traveled to Houston to attend the memorial service of George Floyd who was killed by police in Minneapolis. Floyd’s death at the hands of police sparked nation-wide outrage and two-weeks of on-going protests that have put the issue of police violence, racial inequality, criminal justice reform and calls to defund police at the center of the national debate.

 

Categories: Unions

Global: Stopping gender-based violence in the midst of a pandemic

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 06/06/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL
Categories: Labor News

UK: Childcare needs emergency bailout to save women’s jobs, says TUC

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 06/05/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: TUC
Categories: Labor News

Malaysia: Arrests disrupt peaceful protest by hospital support workers’ union

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 06/05/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Think Left
Categories: Labor News

India: 10 central trade unions call for nationwide protest on July 3rd

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

Peru: UNI launches campaign for reinstatement of 22 sacked Falabella workers in Peru

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 06/03/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: UNI Global Union
Categories: Labor News

Pakistan: 1,600 Pakistani workers reinstated after 12-day highway blockade

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 06/03/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: BWI
Categories: Labor News

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