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Belarus: Belarus opposition calls for general strike after biggest protests yet

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 08/16/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Guardian
Categories: Labor News

Belarus: Workers strike to support victims of police violence

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 08/16/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: People and Nature
Categories: Labor News

Belarus: A new country on the map of Europe

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 08/15/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Global Labour University
Categories: Labor News

Belarus: Workers in Belarus down tools to protest oppression

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 08/14/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL
Categories: Labor News

Indonesia: Workers to demonstrate nationwide August 14-16

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 08/13/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: GardaWorld
Categories: Labor News

Veterinary Workers at CRVS Ratify First Private-Sector Union Contract in the Industry

ILWU - Thu, 08/13/2020 - 10:17

VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON – Workers at Columbia River Veterinary Specialists (CRVS) in Vancouver, Washington ratified their first union contract last night by an overwhelming margin of 53-1. Workers have been bargaining a contract with CRVS management for over a year, after voting to join the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 5 in February 2019.

This historic contract is the first-ever private-sector union contract in the veterinary industry, a rapidly growing, lucrative field where workers are often faced with challenging working conditions and pay that is not commensurate with the education and skill required for the profession. In recent years, there has been massive consolidation of the industry as locally owned hospitals are acquired by large companies, leading to a corporate-led environment where workers’ rights and sustainable jobs for local communities too often come second.

“This contract is only the first step toward making veterinary medicine a viable career during this time of corporate greed. [Our contract] will provide veterinary workers with protections, wage equality, and establish a foothold for continued improvements in working conditions,” explains Kat Bennett, LVT VTS (SAIM) at CRVS.

Despite this spring’s unprecedented disruption due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the worker-led bargaining committee and CRVS management worked together remotely to continue negotiations and arrive at an agreement. Highlights from the contract include a Just Cause standard of protection (rather than “at-will employment) with regards to discipline/termination, and fair policies for determining lay-offs and recalls based on a seniority system.

Workers also advocated for an equitable and transparent wage structure that would create a fair living wage for all hospital workers. The first contract achieved a number of victories on this front. All workers will be compensated via an agreed-upon wage structure, including differentials for overnight work, additional certifications and demonstrated proficiency, and seniority tiers. The agreement, which is retroactive to January 1, 2020, also includes yearly Cost of Living wage adjustments in 2021, 2022 and 2023. When the contract is implemented, workers are projected to see an average wage increase of about 7%. By the end of the agreement in June 2023, current CRVS employees will see, on average, a 17% increase in pay. Raising wages in the veterinary industry will help retain and attract qualified, dedicated staff to CRVS and allow staff to support themselves and their families.

“Since I had not received any meaningful wage increase from CRVS over my five years of employment, I had the lowest hourly wage of any technician with my experience, education, and skillset,” explained Tracie Vestal, an LVT at CRVS. “I had considered substandard pay par for the course as a veterinary technician and had been debating leaving the industry. This was an agonizing consideration given my deep and abiding love and dedication to the veterinary profession.”

Thanks to CRVS’s new union contract, employees like Vestal will be able to make veterinary medicine a sustainable career. CRVS will also benefit by retaining dedicated and experienced employees who have a passion for veterinary medicine. According to Vestal, “This equity in pay will set CRVS apart as being a leading employer in the local veterinary community.”

Looking forward, CRVS workers recognize that the fight for higher standards, safe working conditions, and living wages in the veterinary industry stretches far beyond Columbia River. Veterinary workers throughout the country continue to organize, support each other, and advocate for a stronger and more equitable veterinary industry. CRVS’s union contract has shown veterinary workers and hospitals across the country that it is possible to create a fair union contract that benefits all parties.

“Hopefully hospitals throughout the nation will follow suit, including veterinarians,” says Bennett. “This is a long journey, but we owe it to ourselves, our clients, and especially our patients to keep pushing for justice and fairness in our hospitals.”

Categories: Unions

Jordan: Take action for the immediate release of education union leaders

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 08/12/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Education International
Categories: Labor News

India: Unions: Save India from privatisation and anti-labour policies

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 08/12/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: BWI
Categories: Labor News

Jordan: Education unionists arrested and union work suspended in government crackdown

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 08/11/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Education International
Categories: Labor News

Local 94 will donate lunches for volunteers at Dodger Stadium COVID-19 testing site (CBSLA video)

ILWU - Tue, 08/11/2020 - 15:45

ILWU Local 94 members will donate lunch Wednesday to 100 firefighters and volunteers testing Angelenos for COVID-19 at Dodger Stadium.

Lunch will be provided from San Pedro Fish Market.

The food donations are made possible thanks to generous donations from Local 94 members.

The union has been feeding healthcare workers and first responders throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and has made donations to church food banks in the Harbor area.

Categories: Unions

U.S. Senators on Agriculture Committee urge foreign grain companies to reach ILWU agreement

ILWU - Tue, 08/11/2020 - 15:28
Attacks on ILWU pensions, health care threaten America’s farmers and stability of industry, say sponsors of Grain Standards Reauthorization Act

 

Grainhandlers from ILWU Locals 4, 8, 19, 21 and 23 have been united for decades in their fight for good jobs in the Pacific Northwest’s export terminals, and ILWU solidarity remains strong as we continue to fight for a fair contract.

Two U.S. Senators directed harsh words at foreign-owned grain company officials during the AgricultureCommittee’s markup of the Grain Standards Reauthorization Act in Washington, D.C. on June 24.

The grain companies – Marubeni, Mitsui and Louis Dreyfus – are failing to negotiate in good faith with ILWU grainhandler locals in the Northwest, while U.S.-based TEMCO reached an ILWU agreement more than two years ago.

Ranking Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said, “I have hear troubling reports that certain foreign-owned grain companies may be failing to make good-faith efforts to reach an agreement with their workers. These protracted and contentious negotiations ultimately harm the workers, the American farmers who want certainty, and the American company that has already put in the work to come to an agreement. I would urge all parties to engage in the process in good faith. If left unresolved, these negotiations will undermine certainty for everyone involved in the grain trade, which is the purpose of our meeting today.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) echoed Sen. Stabenow’s comments,
adding, “I am deeply concerned by what is happening to the workers at some of our nation’s largest grain export terminals in the Pacific North-west. It is my understanding that six terminals, owned either by Louis Dreyfus, a Dutch firm, and two Japanese conglomerates, have refused to negotiate in good faith with the men
and women who have worked at these ports for 70 years.”

American company reaches agreement

The grain multinationals that Brown called out in fact allowed their collective bargaining agreement with ILWU grain locals to expire in May of 2018, while U.S.-based TEMCO broke away from their fellow employers to reach an agreement with the ILWU at its three export terminals in Tacoma, Kalama and Portland. The foreign companies include Louis Dreyfus, operating in Portland and Seattle; Mitsui-owned United Grain in Vancouver, and Marubeni-owned Columbia Grain in Portland.

“These companies, with annual revenue in the tens of billions, are asking skilled workers to give up their pensions and their healthcare,” said Sen.

Brown. “As this Committee knows, the value of the Grain Standards Act is that our trading partners can count on the quality and integrity of U.S. grains. If we allow this Act to be undermined, whether by future privatization of inspectors or by the undermining of the skilled workforce at these terminals, we will ultimately hurt the very farmers that count on us.”

Attacks on benefits

“All three of the foreign grain companies began the bargaining pro-
cess by demanding ILWU workers

forfeit long-standing health and welfare benefits and work rules that took decades and much sacrifice to negotiate,” said Coast Committeeman Cam Williams. “Company officials have
refused to budge on their takeaway demands while remaining profitable and putting the stability of the entire grain export industry at risk.”

Concessionary demands from the grain conglomerates include:

• Removing ILWU members from a healthy “green zone” pension plan with over 100% funding and trying to force workers into an inferior retirement plan.
• Cutting health benefits and shifting cost onto workers and family
members.

“Our families cannot and will not give up living standards that American workers have fought so hard to win,” said Jared Smith, a grainhandler at the United Grain terminal and President of ILWU Local 4. “Our families deserve a secure present and future from these foreign-owned companies that are highly profitable and control much of the world’s grain supply. They’re supposed to negotiate, not dictate.”

A Christmas lump of coal

The foreign companies’ “take-it-or-leave-it” approach has effectively ended meaningful negotiations since
the spring of 2019. Marubeni tried and failed to use heavy-handed legal tactics last year against more than 100 grain workers in Portland by filing a specious law- suit the week of Christmas in 2018 and serving legal papers at employees’ homes that demanded up to $250,000 in damages from each family.

A U.S. District Court subsequently dismissed the employer’s harassment lawsuit, but Marubeni has appealed in an apparent attempt to make the ILWU waste money on legal fees. Such suits have long been considered illegal “unfair labor practices” by the National Labor Relations Board.

ILWU stands in good faith

ILWU grainhandlers remain committed to reaching a fair agreement with the companies, noting that the TEMCO agreement they reached in 2018 protects working families, assures no disruptions in grain exports, and maintains a highly skilled workforce in export terminals that benefit farmers, workers and the U.S. economy.

“We won’t allow big foreign corporations to bully workers into giving away long-established pension and health-care benefits earned by 3,000 American workers in Oregon and Washington,”
said ILWU International President Willie Adams. “We’re committed to working with America’s farmers to ensure that grain exports get the government inspections needed by overseas customers. But we can’t allow foreign corporations to attack the health, welfare and pensions of American workers and then receive a government seal of approval for their exports. It’s time for these ‘big three’ conglomerates to bargain in good faith for the benefit of American workers and farmers.”

“These workers have been on the job without a contract for the past two years,” said Sen. Brown. “It’s past time for these terminal operators to come back to the negotiating table and hash out a fair and amicable agreement with workers. It is my hope that my colleagues will join me in prioritizing these workers over the profits of these foreign-owned corporations.”

Categories: Unions

Remembering Bloody Thursday July 5, 1934 on the San Francisco waterfront

ILWU - Tue, 08/11/2020 - 12:50

The following history is based on a brief talk given by Harvey Schwartz at the Bloody Thursday Memorial presentations, Local 10, ILWU, San Francisco, July 5, 2019

Longshore Local 10 hiring hall, San Francisco, 1946. Winning a union dispatch was one the great gains of the 1934 strike.

Bloody Thursday—July 5, 1934—marked the turning point of the great West Coast maritime strike of 1934. The reasons for this “Big Strike” had been seething for many years. For starters, an old San Francisco longshore union had been broken in 1919. The long nonunion period that followed lasted until 1934. These were the pre-container years of heavy, hand-worked cargo. Even when workers could get jobs handling “break bulk” cargo, as it was called, hiring was discriminatory, the pace of labor was inhumanely fast and unsafe, and work shifts sometimes lasted 12 to 16 or more hours.

The waterfront employers created and maintained divisions among longshore workers when it served their purposes. To speed up longshore operations and increase productivity, they frequently goaded work gangs of different nationalities or races to compete against each other at a reckless pace. The accident rate on San Francisco’s waterfront was notorious, with three to six serious injuries for every eight-hour shift of 2,000 workers. The San Francisco employers even sponsored a company-controlled “union,” known as “The Blue Book,” but it existed only to keep real unionism out. You had to join The Blue Book to get most jobs. Its control was enforced by intimidation.

In recorded interviews from the large Oral History Collection housed at the ILWU International, union founder Harry Bridges and others described the corrupt “shape-up” in pre-1934 hiring. At the shape-up each morning, men gathered in front of the Ferry Building to beg for jobs or to pay bribes, called “kickbacks,” just to get a day’s work—a jug of wine, a bottle of whiskey, and sometimes even sexual favors from a wife or woman friend. Things got significantly worse when the Great Depression started in 1929. Jobs were scarce and people were desperate.

If you got hurt on the job, you didn’t apply for workmen’s compensation for fear of being “blacklisted,” or denied future employment. This was because compensation claims could increase an employer’s insurance rate. When Bridges broke his foot in 1929, he limped around on the job for two or three days instead of making a claim for injury. Workers worried, too, that if you took time off for illness or injury, another hungry worker might take your place on the waterfront for good.

Bridges also recalled how San Francisco longshoremen had to go to waterfront bootleggers during Prohibition (1919–1933), when liquor was illegal, to cash company-issued payroll medallions called “brass checks.” Bridges said:

“Near the shape-up, there were bootleg joints, bookmaking joints, and poolrooms. We used to cash payroll brass checks at Paddy Hurley’s. Hurley did business with the company union, cashing brass checks. There were other guys that used to cash in brass checks and take a 20% payment.”

Bridges added that at Hurley’s you had to buy drinks before the bootlegger would cash your brass check. The many grievances reached a boiling point by 1934. When the Big Strike began on May 9, the union made several demands. Bridges listed them in his recorded interview:

“We’d deal only as a district. We wanted a six-hour day, a thirty-hour week, one dollar an hour, and the union hiring hall. We wanted the union hiring hall because of the shape-up.”

The union won the six-hour day to share the work during the Depression but gave it up years later in contract negotiations. Bridges’ condition regarding a “district” deal referred to the 1934 demand for a coast-wide contract. As he explained:

“When one port is on strike, and the ship can move a few miles away and be worked by members of the same union, it’s ridiculous. That’s why we wanted to have an agreement covering all ports.” The union achieved its demand for a hiring hall through a decision by the strike’s federal arbitration board that each hiring hall dispatcher must be a union member.

The union also won the all-important coast-wide contract. The strike arbitration board awarded longshore workers a ten-cent increase in wages to ninety-five cents an hour. This was the equivalent of eighteen dollars an hour in 2019. But wages were a secondary consideration compared to the issues of dignity on the job and union control in hiring.

During the strike, Bridges bid successfully for the support of San Francisco’s African American community. In return, he promised that the union would adopt a policy of “no discrimination” in hiring if it won the strike. The San Francisco African American community agreed. Employers were unable to recruit African American community members to cross the union’s picket lines, and Bridges kept his promise when the strike ended.

The Big Strike lasted for 82 days, from May 9 to July 30. The Sailors’ Union of the Pacific (SUP) and several smaller marine crafts joined the walkout. In an effort to defeat the strike, the employers used “scabs,” or strikebreakers; they baited leftists for being “red”; and they formed alliances with coastal police to suppress the strike. Bridges described the situation in San Francisco: We’d get out there with our flag, our union banner, and I think we had a couple of drums to march along. Then the cops would move in and beat the shit out of us.

On July 5, Bloody Thursday, the employers tried to force open the San Francisco port by running scab trucks with police escorts through the longshoremen’s picket line at Pier 38. A great battle followed. The police used tear gas, clubs, and guns on the unarmed strikers. At least 100 strikers and their supporters were injured.

Three workers were shot by plainclothes police outside the union’s headquarters at Mission and Steuart Streets. One worker, Charles Olsen, survived. Two others, Howard Sperry, a longshoreman and a World War I veteran, and Nick Bordoise, a union cook and strike supporter, were shot in the back and killed.

Along the Pacific coast, four more workers were killed during the strike: longshoremen Dick Parker and John Knudsen in Los Angeles and longshoreman Shelvy Daffron and SUP member Olaf Helland in Seattle. SUP member Bruce Lindberg was killed by a scab in Hong Kong.

A massive, dignified funeral parade for Sperry and Bordoise marched up Market Street in San Francisco on July 9. Henry Schmidt, an early longshore activist, reported that 50,000 people lined the street to watch. That day, public opinion turned in favor of the strikers. The massive shift in support following the death of the two workers may well explain why the board arbitrating the longshore strike eventually conceded to the union’s key demands.

Between July 16 and 19, city and regional workers participated in the historic 1934 San Francisco General Strike to protest the killings. More than 40,000 Bay Area unionists walked out that July. Sam Kagel, who worked for the longshore union in 1934 and later became the longshore industry’s long-serving coast arbitrator, described the General Strike in his oral history:

“I can still see it and feel it. It was an exhilarating moment. I looked up Market Street and there was nothing moving.”

Ultimately, winning a coast-wide longshore contract and a union dispatcher in 1934 provided the foundation for the Longshore Division and guaranteed the entire union’s longterm security.

Bordoise and Sperry and the other five workers killed in 1934 died as martyrs to a great cause. That is the legacy we commemorate on July 5 in San Francisco and wherever there are ILWU members and supporters.

– Harvey Schwartz

 

Author Harvey Schwartz is Curator of the ILWU Oral History Collection, which consists of more than 300 interviews conducted since 1981. The collection is housed at the international headquarters of the ILWU. He is the author of The March Inland: Origins of the ILWU Warehouse Division, 1934–1938 (1975; reprint, 2000); Solidarity Stories: An Oral History of the ILWU (2009); and Building the Golden Gate Bridge: A Workers’ Oral History (2015).

Categories: Unions

ILWU mourns the passing of Civil Rights icon and Congressman John Lewis

ILWU - Tue, 08/11/2020 - 12:16

Standoff on the Edmund Pettus Bridge: On March 7, 1965, civil rights protesters attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, the state capital, to draw attention to the issue of voting rights for African-Americans. Led by Hosea Williams (at left front in the dark raincoat) and John Lewis (at right front in the light raincoat), the marchers crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge. There they encountered Alabama state troopers and local police officers who ordered them to turn back. When the protesters refused, the police tear-gassed and beat them. Over 50 people, including Lewis, were hospitalized.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union joins millions of people across the country in mourning the death of Civil Rights icon and United States Congressman John Lewis. Our deepest condolences go out to his family, friends, and all of those whose lives were touched by Congressman Lewis’ life and work.

Lewis passed away on July 17 at the age of 80 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was one of the few surviving members of Dr. Martin Luther King’s inner circle. The loss of Congressman Lewis was especially hard because it came at a time when the issues that he championed his entire life—civil rights, opposition to police brutality, voting rights, and economic justice—are once again front and center of the current national debate.

“John Lewis was a true hero and warrior for the working class,” said ILWU International President Willie Adams in a statement released shortly after Lewis’ death. “He was fearless, committed, and unwavering in his dedication to racial and economic justice. In the streets of Selma and the halls of Congress, John Lewis fought for us all. The torch has truly been passed to a new generation of activists who today are continuing the fight for civil rights. May the memory of his life-long dedication and commitment to social justice and the struggle for freedom be a light that guides us through these challenging times.” 

Coming of age in the “King years” 

Lewis was born into a sharecropping family in 1940 in Troy, Alabama. His life was shaped by his lived experience in the segregated Jim Crow South and his coming of age during the early years of the Civil Rights movement. “I grew up about 50 miles from Montgomery. Growing up there as a young child, I tasted the bitter fruits of racism. I saw the signs that said white men, colored men; white women, colored women; white waiting, colored waiting,” Lewis said. “And I would ask my mother, my father, my grandparents, and my great-grandparents why. They would say, ‘That’s the way it is. Don’t go getting in trouble.’”

Lewis was 14 years-old when years of organizing and legal work by the NAACP culminated in the Brown v. Board of Education decision that declared segregation in public schools unconstitutional. He was only one year older than Emmett Till when Till was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 and the shocking photos of his desecrated body appeared in the Black magazines Jet and the Chicago Defender. As a young man, Lewis was inspired by Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955-56 and he spent hours listening to the speeches of Dr. King on the radio. Lewis was an unfailing supporter of the rights and dignity of working-class Americans and a fearless champion for liberty and civil rights throughout his entire life. He was one of the original Freedom Riders in the summer of 1960 during which he faced violent attacks by angry racists. March on Washington Lewis helped to organize and also spoke at the historic 1963 March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered the “I Have A Dream” speech.

Lewis was not only the youngest speaker at the March; as a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), he also represented the most radical organization. “To those who have said, ‘Be patient and wait,’ we have long said that we cannot be patient,” Lewis said that day. “We do not want our freedom gradually, but we want to be free now!” Lewis challenged not only racists and segregationists but also liberal allies who he believed did not go far enough in eradicating injustice. I

n an early draft of his speech for the March on Washington, Lewis criticized the Kennedy Administration’s civil rights bill because it was “too little and too late. There’s not one thing in the bill that will protect our people from police brutality” the draft said. The language was later changed to lukewarm support for the bill out of respect for more conservative Civil Rights elders who asked for the change. Lewis courageously put his body on the line in pursuit of racial justice and equality.

He and Reverend Hosea Williams from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference led a nonviolent march in 1965 across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, headed toward Montgomery. The pair led over 500 peaceful marchers into a line of violent racist police who attacked the group with clubs, bullwhips, and tear gas while Lewis urged everyone to kneel and pray. Lewis was so severely beaten in the “Bloody Sunday” incident that he had to be hospitalized with skull fractures and nearly died from his injuries. 

ILWU family 

John Lewis had longstanding connections with the ILWU that were forged over many decades because of a shared dedication to racial and economic justice, lifelong support for unions and workers, and the fact that his youngest sister, Rosa Tyner, was a member of ILWU Locals 10 and 91 for 23 years. As a member of Congress, Representative Lewis was a champion of working people and a strong supporter of collective bargaining rights. He advocated for a living wage, called for raising the minimum wage and supported Davis-Bacon and other prevailing wage laws. He called for and strengthened workplace safety standards. Rep. Lewis was in all ways a true friend to longshore, maritime, and warehouse workers. 

“There is a lot to learn from the life of John Lewis,” said ILWU International Vice President Bobby Olvera. “He fought against the forces of segregation at a time when civil rights were unpopular with white Americans. He responded to hate and violence with courage and hope and the belief that working-class people, united, could make America a better place for us all.”

“Civil rights are labor rights and labor rights are civil rights,” said ILWU International Secretary-Treasurer Ed Ferris. “John Lewis shared the same values upon which our union was built: The right of workers to collectively organize for better wages and conditions, and the right of all workers to be free from discrimination under the law and in the workplace. His leadership will be missed.” 

Black Lives Matter 

In an essay published in the Atlantic in 2014 in the aftermath of the 2013 killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman and the police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York, Congressman Lewis tried to explain the emergence of the Black Lives Matter Movement and the unrest that erupted in Ferguson and other cities at the time. His essay also illuminates the current crisis.

“Many Americans find themselves at a loss to understand the depth of the anger and frustration of the protestors. It might be worthwhile for them to read a speech Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered on April 14, 1967, at Stanford University,” Lewis wrote. “King describes what he calls the ‘other America,’ one of two starkly different American experiences that exist side-by-side. One people ‘experience the opportunity of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in all its dimensions,’ and the other a ‘daily ugliness’ that spoils the purest hopes of the young and old, leaving only ‘the fatigue of despair.’ The Brown and Garner cases themselves are not the only focus of the protestors’ grievances, but they represent a glimpse of a different America most Americans have found it inconvenient to confront. “One group of people in this country can expect the institutions of government to bend in their favor, no matter that they are supposedly regulated by impartial law. In the other, children, fathers, mothers, uncles, grandfathers, whole families, and many generations are swept up like rubbish by the hard, unforgiving hand of the law.” 

Honoring Lewis’ legacy

 To honor Congressman Lewis’ life and work, there have been calls and online petitions to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge after Lewis. Edmund Pettus was a Confederate general and leader of the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama. The bridge has become synonymous with Congressman Lewis and the Civil Rights movement and the “Bloody Sunday” incident. Others would also like to see concrete policies enacted, not just a symbolic change. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, sponsored by 47 Democrats and one Republican, was introduced in the House days after Lewis passed away.

The Act would require that any state with a history of voting discrimination within the past 25 years seek federal approval before making any changes to its voting procedures. It would also mandate that any state obtain clearance from the Justice Department or a federal court before making any changes that would burden voters of color, such as strict voter ID laws or closing polling places in areas with large numbers of minority voters. The Act is identical to legislation that was introduced by Lewis last year to restore the Voting Rights Act and passed by the House in December.

Republicans refused to take up the bill in the Senate. It has now been re-introduced and the name changed in honor of John Lewis Reverend William Barber, the civil rights activist and a co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, said in a recent interview, “Imagine if we had listened to John Lewis? What if, instead of simply mourning, people chose to live the life that he lived? It’s time we start to emulate their lives, not just in some memorial fashion, but in actual policy and political evolution and transformation.”

Categories: Unions

ILWU members find ways to honor Bloody Thursday sacrifices under COVID-19 restrictions

ILWU - Tue, 08/11/2020 - 11:38

First Blood martyrs: ILWU Local 13 President Ramon Ponce De Leon (left) remembers Dickie Parker and John Knudsen, the first martyrs of the 1934 strike, at a small graveside memorial. The Bloody Thursday remembrance in Southern California also included a car caravan. Pictured next to Ponce De Leon from left to right are: PCPA President Greg Mitre, Local 13 member Angel Blanco, SoCal pensioner Jerry Garretson, and PCPA Poet Laureate Jerry Brady.

Picnics were canceled this July 5 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but ILWU members and pensioners along the West Coast organized socially-distanced Bloody Thursday remembrances to honor the sacrifices of workers killed during the 1934 West Coast strike that led to the establishment of the ILWU. (Read ILWU historian Harvey Schwartz’s history of the “Big Strike” here.)

SoCal caravan

Southern California ILWU members, pensioners, and family gathered on Sunday, July 5, to mark Bloody Thursday with a car procession that concluded with a graveside memorial at Roosevelt Memorial Park in Gardena, where the first two martyrs of the 1934 strike, San Pedro High graduate Dickie Parker and Lomita resident John Knudsen, are buried. This year’s memorial was scaled down to observe proper social distancing protocols and ensure everyone’s safety. There were over 100 cars in the procession, including several beautifully restored classic cars. Most people remained in their vehicles while a small number conducted the service. Among those in attendance for the graveside memorial were Local 13 President Ramon Ponce De Leon, Local 63 President Mike Podue, Local 94 President Danny Miranda, Local 13 Vice President Jesse “Nacho” Enriquez, Local 13 member and event coordinator, Angel Blanco, Pacific Coast Pensioner Association (PCPA) President Greg Mitre, Southern California Pensioner President Jerry Garretson, and PCPA Poet Laureate Jerry Brady who opened the memorial with a poem about the 1934 strike. “There is no greater love than this—for one to lay down their life for their friends,” Ponce De Leon said of Parker and Knudsen “We wouldn’t have the lives that we have if it wasn’t for these men to start it off. The fight is not over. We still have issues that we need to deal with and we’re still fighting every day.” “The most important thing we do all year is to pay tribute to these men who gave their lives so we could have this union,” said Blanco. “They did what they had to do for us, so this is the least we can do for them.”

Bay Area Bloody Thursday featured new and old

The official Bloody Thursday ceremony sponsored each year by the Bay Area Longshoremen’s Memorial Association (BALMA) at the Local 10 hall usually attracts a large crowd with many pensioners and families. That kind of event was too dangerous this year, so BALMA organizers had to search for a different way of honoring the union’s founding events in 1934. Video celebration BALMA leaders brainstormed and came up with a new way to honor past sacrifices and educate a new generation – by producing a video that celebrates and educates a new generation of ILWU members about the meaning of Bloody Thursday. The home-made video draws on commentary from current BALMA leaders, including BALMA President John Castanho, who introduces the video. He’s followed by BALMA Treasurer Mike Villeggiante, and cameos by International Secretary-Treasurer Ed Ferris, Local 10 President Trent Willis, and Local 34 President Keith Shanklin. The production borrows heavily from existing footage to explain the 1934 strike that gave rise to the ILWU – at the expense of seven men who were killed in the struggle. “We produced this video on a shoestring,” said John Castanho, who thanked the entire BALMA team for getting the project done ahead of schedule, despite the COVID-19 crisis. It has already attracted nearly 2500 viewers on YouTube. The video can be viewed at https://youtu.be/ v78Ik8Ix4kQ

“We realized that a video is no substitute for our annual ceremony that brings together so many pensioners and families with their kids,” said Villeggiante, “but it was a great alternative when the ‘usual’ was impossible because of COVID-19.”

Modest memorial in Seattle

ILWU Local 19 President Rich Austin, Jr. said ILWU members and pensioners in the Seattle area held a modest memorial at the gravesite of Shelvy Daffron. Shelvy was shot in the back on June 30th while checking on a rumor that non-union crews were about to sail two oil tankers in Point Wells just north of Seattle. The names of the other 1934 martyrs were read by Carl Woeck of the Seattle Pensioners Club.

Rally at the Port of Oakland

Leaders from Locals 10 and 34 decided to go forward with another way to celebrate Bloody Thursday— with a protest at the Port of Oakland on July 5. The four-hour event connected current struggles for racial and economic justice with the “Big Strike” of 1934. “Eighty-six years ago, workers in the Bay Area were struggling to overcome racism used by employers to divide waterfront workers and weaken the strike,” said Local 10’s Willis.

“Employers failed because workers rejected racism and built a powerful alliance with the Black community that strengthened the union then and now,” he said. Willis and Shanklin planned an action that reduced the risk of COVID19. It was a relatively small event, with all participants expected to wear masks and observe social distancing. Another risk-reducer called for holding a car caravan instead of a march. The modest rally at the Port of Oakland was held in front of the SSA Terminal.

Shanklin served as the emcee, working closely with Willis to keep the crowded agenda of speakers moving through the two-and-a-half-hour program. ILWU Secretary-Treasurer Ed Ferris attended the event. While the crowd of 50 was smaller and younger than most Bloody Thursday events, this one had no less passion and featured a diverse array of speakers, including many community members. It was billed as a rally against racism, police violence, and the need for social justice. Speakers tended to be young, and the majority were people of color. One of the speakers was Chicago bus driver Erek Slater, who, in his capacity as a union representative for Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 241, was disciplined after raising concerns about Chicago Transit Authority bus drivers shuttling police around during the protests of the murder of George Floyd. Slater and his union are fighting back against efforts by the employer to discipline him. Veteran Local 10 activist Clarence Thomas, now a pensioner, made the case against efforts to build a luxury condo and commercial complex in the Port of Oakland, something Local 10 members are opposing with a coalition of business and community groups.

“The Fisher family, who owns the clothing retailer GAP and has backed anti-union candidates around the country, wants to build a playground for the rich at the Port of Oakland. If anyone wants to invest, it should benefit the people of West Oakland. The Fisher plan is like someone who wants to build an amusement park on an assembly line – it’s just nuts,” said Thomas. After the rally, dozens of cars lined up for the ten-mile ride to the Oakland Coliseum – the home of the Oakland A’s baseball team – which Fisher wants relocated to the Port of Oakland property on the docks. Fisher owns the ball team and has hired a troupe of lobbyists to win support from politicians and community leaders – an effort that now faces resistance from the ILWU and the coalition to save the Port. “Our rally and car caravan were a good way to combine important issues of today with important history from the past,” said Shanklin. “Each generation has to keep moving the ball forward,” he said.

Categories: Unions

Belarus: Repression is intensifying in Belarus: world leaders should take action

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 08/10/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: EFJ
Categories: Labor News

Iran: IUF calls on ILO to help secure wage arrears for hungry sugar workers in Iran

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 08/10/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IUF
Categories: Labor News

Cambodia: Education International calls for the immediate release of arrested trade union leader

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 08/06/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Education International
Categories: Labor News

STATEMENT OF ILWU INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT WILLIE ADAMS ON THE EXPLOSION AT PORT OF BEIRUT

ILWU - Wed, 08/05/2020 - 15:46

August 5, 2020 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (August 5, 2020) – International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) workers on the West Coast of the United States and Canada grieve the tremendous losses that Beirut is suffering following an explosion of stored material at a port warehouse. While the chaos of the explosion has yet to reveal the full scope of human loss, we are heartbroken to learn that longshore workers lost their lives when their worksite became ground zero for the catastrophic explosion. The city of Beirut and thousands of families will never be the same.

Reports that the Lebanese government has put port authorities under house arrest while investigating the dubious storage these explosive materials on the docks since 2014, and the likelihood that these deaths were preventable, are deeply disturbing but not surprising developments to those of us who work on the waterfront. Employers, port authorities and government agencies should always hold safety paramount on the waterfront – but, left unchecked, complacency and profit motive too often put workers’ lives at risk. The shocking images we are seeing in the news illustrate why dockworker unions fight for safety on the docks and the safe movement of cargo: to protect our lives and communities.

The ILWU is closely monitoring the developments at the Port of Beirut, and we will determine the best way to assist when the facts become clearer.

On behalf of my fellow Titled Officers, the Coast Committeemen and the rank and file membership, I extend our profound condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the dockworkers and the people of Beirut.

PDF of the statement available here.

Categories: Unions

Global: ILO Child Labour Convention achieves universal ratification

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 08/04/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ILO
Categories: Labor News

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