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Sudan: Protest leaders dismiss army's offer to hold talks

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 06/05/2019 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: al Jazeera
Categories: Labor News

Sudan: Complete civil disobedience, and open political strike...

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 06/05/2019 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: SPA
Categories: Labor News

Hong Kong: 'We have not forgotten': mass Hong Kong vigil commemorates June 4

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 06/05/2019 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IUF
Categories: Labor News

Australia: Second police raid in two days disturbing new pattern emerging

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 06/05/2019 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IFJ
Categories: Labor News

China: Over 50 journalists detained in Xinjiang

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 06/05/2019 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IFJ
Categories: Labor News

Alan Michael Coté: former President of the Inlandboatmen’s Union

ILWU - Wed, 06/05/2019 - 16:39

More than 100 union members, community leaders, friends and family came from as far as Hawaii, Alaska and Australia to Seattle’s Labor Temple on the evening of May 18 where they remembered and honored their departed brother, Alan Michael Coté, who led the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific for 12 years from 2005-2017.

The memorial opened with a moving prayer by Father Joseph Peters- Matthews of Seattle’s Seafarer Center, a project that provides domestic and international seafarers with support and solidarity. It was followed by heartfelt eulogy delivered by IBU Secretary-Treasurer Terri Mast, who worked closely with Coté. She fought back tears while sharing details of his life and efforts to lead the union through turbulent times.

Coté was born in 1957 in Renton, WA, 10 miles south of Seattle, where he was raised by parents Benjamin and Frances, along with his deceased sister Diane and older brother Steve – who attended the memorial with his wife, Carol. Steve told a story that won smiles and laughter when he explained how Alan’s notoriously poor eyesight was discovered long ago when his younger brother became briefly lost in the woods during a family camping trip – a condition remedied with eyeglasses and thick lenses that Coté wore for the rest of his life.

By all accounts, Coté was a curious and intelligent student with a gift for storytelling and negotiating. He once bargained a $5-dollar-a-week payment plan with a judge for a traffic ticket he received while hot-rodding when he was only 16-years old. Coté used his daily lunch money to quietly conceal the mischief from his parents. In college, he formed a network of close friends who remained in touch for the next 44 years. He met his wife Linda in high school, later reconnecting with her when she worked at one of Alan’s favorite restaurants. She invited him on a group camping trip where she was won over by his excellent cooking and quick wit. They married in 1993 and enjoyed 26 years together.

Alan worked as a personal chef on a yacht for several years before taking a job with Crowley Maritime in 1989 where he combined his love of cooking with maritime work. He quickly became active in the union and won support from co-workers who elected him to be a shop steward, then Bargaining Committee member in 1997. Two years later he was elected as a Towboat Patrolman for the Puget Sound.

In 2005, Coté, was elected President of the IBU where he served for 12 years. His leadership qualities, according to Terri Mast, included good listening skills and an ability to encourage talent in others – while allowing them room to operate with their own style – offering backup and support when needed.

“He was a man of his word and was trusted by both the membership and employers,” said Mast. “He was a good negotiator and bargained some of our best contracts.”Respect from both sides was confirmed by Lee Egland, head of Labor Relation for Crowley Maritime on the West Coast, who previously worked on tugs and towboats as an IBU member.

“Alan was firm but fair,” said Egland, who added that Coté would sometimes torture him with long lectures about meat cuts and other odd topics if it seemed the company wasn’t

responding to worker concerns during contract negotiations.

A spirited and uplifting musical interlude was provided by members of the Seattle Labor Chorus, including IBU member Sue Moser. Fellow IBU leader Jeff Engels, now West Coast Coordinator for the International Transport Workers Federation, recalled how he and Coté learned painful but important lessons from a long and bitter strike that the IBU waged against Crowley in 1987 – highlighting the need to organize growing numbers of non-union workers in the tug and tow industry.

“I ran for IBU President in 1999 and lost, then Alan won a few years later in 2005,” said Engels. “I didn’t mind Alan jumping ahead because we’re supposed to promote and encourage new leaders with talent – not hold them back.”

ILWU International President Willie Adams spoke briefly, but powerfully, at the memorial.

“I’m not here tonight as your President, but as a friend and union brother,” he said. “I first met Alan in 2005, and we saw each other regularly at meetings of the International Executive Board and other union events. Like many of you, I was glad to see him at the IBU’s 100th Anniversary celebration last November, here in Seattle, which was the last time that some of us saw him.”

“He died too soon, but made the most of his time here with us,” said Adams, who praised his leadership skills. “Thank you for sharing Alan with us – he made the labor movement, and our union, much better,” Coté made connections when he traveled and worked with other unions, often turning these encounters into political alliances and working groups. That’s what happened when he visited Australia and helped establish a sister-port relationship between Seattle and Sydney. Later he helped establish a Towboat and Tugboat Conference that brought together unions from different countries with common problems and employers.

A recorded video message from Paul Garrett, Assistant Secretary at the Maritime Union of Australia in Sydney, was played at the memorial. Garrett conveyed condolences on behalf of MUA members along with his personal gratitude for the opportunity to work with Coté, whom he described as a “great mate.”

Rob Patterson, Honorary Deputy Branch Secretary from the MUA in Sydney, appeared at the memorial in-person, saying, “when the news of Alan’s death arrived, it was a very somber day.

He always told us that he didn’t consider his work for the IBU to be a job, but an honor, to serve the membership.”

At home in the Puget Sound, Coté built similar coalitions at the local level, serving as President and Secretary-Treasurer of the King County Maritime Trades. In doing this work, he was honest about the challenge – while committed to the goal of building greater unity, no matter how frustrating the process could become.

Don Marcus, President of the Masters, Mates and Pilots Union, attended the memorial where he praised Coté’s effort to build unity under difficult circumstances.

He and Coté were instrumental in forming the Maritime Labor Alliance that provides a way for the ILWU and IBU to coordinate with other unions.

“Maritime Labor has lost a good friend and man of vision, intelligence and insight,” said Marcus who noted that Alan was frank and refreshingly down-to-earth.

“He was at home in a tugboat galley or the halls of Congress, where he always wore a plaid flannel shirt and didn’t hesitate to speak his mind to members of Congress.”

Coté’s willingness to speak honestly about problems was also evident at meetings of the ILWU International Executive Board, where he served from 2006-2017. His reports and comments were refreshingly frank and he willingly shared difficult decisions facing the IBU for which there were no easy answers.

ILWU Canada’s Local 400 Secretary-Treasurer Jason Woods said his union and the IBU have shared some similar history, employers and struggles over the years. He noted that Local 400 is mentioned in the IBU Constitution because of their similarities and solidarity, and felt fortunate to have shared many meaningful conversations and meetings with Coté.

The loss of Cote’s wife, Linda, who died suddenly and unexpectedly in 2018, was a devastating blow that left him heartbroken, and his adjustment to a new life after serving in the union so long, seemed difficult.

A favorite project of Coté’s was the Tongue Point Maritime Academy in Astoria Oregon, where young people – often from challenging backgrounds – receive expert, practical training to secure good jobs in the maritime industry. Seamanship Instructor Mike Sasso explained how Alan sometimes talked about teaching a cooking class one day at the Academy. One project that is being realized is the Academy’s construction of a 1/35th scale model tug and barge – large enough to teach students the dynamics of tug and tow vessel operations. Sasso said the new vessel will be named the “Alan Coté.”

IBU poet Jay Ubelhart from the Puget Sound Region help bring the ceremony to a close by reading a beautiful poem that he composed in Alan’s memory. Final honors of the evening were provided by IBU Regional Director Peter Hart, who invited everyone present to toast Coté’s passing by honoring his spirit of solidarity and devotion to the trade union movement, as 100 voices came together in unison, with the words: “Long live Alan Coté.”

The following morning, a smaller group of several dozen IBU members, friends and Coté’s family, gathered on a Washington State ferry that departed for Bainbridge Island. After crossing Elliott Bay, the vessel slowed and engines were idled, as the group on the rear deck placed flowers, wreaths and Coté’s ashes into the placid blue water of the Puget Sound that he loved so much, “Goodbye Alan,” said his brother Steve, releasing the heavy steel ecological container of ashes that quickly plunged beneath the waves as a Crowley tugboat “danced” in circles and sounded its horn to honor the departed mariner and union brother, Alan Michael Coté.

Categories: Unions

Oversight, transparency, and accountability are priorities at Secretary-Treasurers conference

ILWU - Wed, 06/05/2019 - 12:03

Practical lessons: Maddie King (left) and Jared Hueholt from Local 5 worked on a mock audit of a hypothetical union local. Participants applied the lessons they learned throughout the week in this group exercise.

A record 83 ILWU members, officers, and staff who oversee local finances attended the Secretary-Treasurers Conference in Seattle on May 19-24. The five-day training used a combination of interactive exercises and presentations from experts to help participants understand their legal and ethical responsibility to protect membership dues dollars. Topics included best practices for record-keeping, transparency, proper oversight, and democratic accountability.

Special guests at the conference included ILWU International President Willie Adams, ILWU International Vice President (Mainland) Bobby Olvera, Jr., ILWU International Vice President (Hawaii) Wesley Furtado, ILWU International Secretary-Treasurer Ed Ferris, Coast Committeeman Cam Williams, ILWU Canada’s Second Vice President Dan Kask, ILWU Canada’s Secretary-Treasurer Bob Dhaliwal, and ILWU President Emeritus Bob McEllrath.

Welcome from President Adams

Transparency is key: “Our responsibility to the membership is to be transparent,” said ILWU International President Willie Adams in his welcoming remarks.

President Willie Adams and Secretary-Treasurer Ed Ferris welcomed participants to the event that began on Sunday evening. Adams thanked everyone for coming to the training and for their dedication and commitment to the ILWU.

“This week you have an opportunity to learn, become engaged and take this information back to your locals,” Adams said. “The power of this organization doesn’t sit at the top of this organization – it is right here in this room.”

Adams spoke briefly about the many challenges facing the union with attacks by the employers in the courts and at the bargaining table.

“In our 88 years, we’ve been sued a lot, but always stayed focused on our work to represent members. We cannot live in fear. We have to take these challenges head-on,” he said. Ed Ferris said he attended the last Secretary-Treasurers Conference in 2013. “I sat in this same room, just like you are today. I left that training with a feeling of empowerment, and

that’s what I hope you leave with.

The goal of this conference is to go back to our locals with new skills to better serve them,” he said.

Going paperless

Team work: Local 10 Secretary-Treasurer Farless Dailey (left) with Local 10 staff member Julie Chandler worked together on one of the group exercises.

During the conference, each participant was loaned an electronic tablet that provided access to all documents, presentations and other materials used during the week. The digital format saved time and money by avoiding the expense of shipping heavy documents, renting copiers and purchasing reams of paper

Oversight and transparency are key

Training sessions focused on the importance of open and transparent financial practices, so members can see that their dues money is being fully accounted for and properly spent.

This requires proper bookkeeping practices, documentation of expenditures along with constant oversight by Trustees who are elected by the membership. Locals were also encouraged to conduct periodic, independent audits by outside firms to verify that local finances are in order. The ILWU’s International financial records are audited each quarter – an exceptional level of oversight that is far more frequent than most organizations.

Local 4 member Lamar Stewart

Local 5 Secretary-Treasurer Ryan Takas said it was essential to have a ‘culture of paranoia’ with multiple people overseeing the books and redundant systems of checks and balances.

“It may seem inefficient to some,” he said, “but our goal is not efficiency – it’s the safeguarding of union funds.”

IBU Secretary-Treasurer Terri Mast was a veteran presenter at the conference. “I think the Secretary-Treasurer is the most important position in the union, she said. “Our responsibility is to make sure that we have proper controls in place to protect the members’ money.”

Hard lessons

The ILWU has a strong record in protecting member’s dues money from fraud and abuse. However, a few isolated instances have occurred, like in all organizations, where an individual tried to steal funds from local union members. Those illegal actions were eventually discovered and the individuals responsible were prosecuted, with funds recovered through restitution.

Instead of ignoring such instances or sweeping them under the rug, these rare examples were used as case studies to help guard against future abuse. Group discussions focused on shortcomings that enabled fraud to initially go unchecked until it was exposed.

Presenters reviewed new practices that have been put in place to tighten oversight of union finances. The conference also covered democratic safeguards, including the proper conduct of local union elections, laws regulating the use political action funds, obligations unions face as employers, bonding requirements for staff and officers who handle union funds, and proper management of current and archival union records.

Time out for solidarity

Touch one, touch all: ILWU International Secretary-Treasurer Ed Ferris spoke at a solidarity rally with UNITE-HERE Local 8 members. Ferris strongly encouraged management to negotiate a fair contract with the workers at the Edgewater Hotel.

On Wednesday afternoon, the conference broke early so participants could march in solidarity with staff at the Edgewater Hotel, where the event was held. The hotel workers belong to UNITE-HERE Local 8 and are facing difficult negotiations to renew their contract. Workers want better wages to keep pace with rising costs in Seattle, lowering the threshold to qualify for healthcare benefits, and winning successor language to protect their contract if the hotel is sold. ILWU members joined a rally and informational picket outside the hotel.

Ed Ferris spoke at the event. “One of the reasons that the ILWU chose to hold our conference at the Edgewater Hotel is because of the excellent service provided by Local 8 members. Management should do the right thing and negotiate a fair contract with you,” he said. “Workers shouldn’t have to work two or three jobs just to survive.”

Willie Adams said that the officers would be expressing their concerns about the contract situation with the hotel management.

Valuable experiences

As the training session concluded, participants had a chance to reflect on what they had learned.

“The experience has been valuable to me,” said Local 51 Dispatcher/Secretary-Treasurer Don Lund. “Our previous Secretary-Treasurer was in the position for over twenty years. Even though I know what and how to do it, the conference has helped me understand why it’s important.”

Lund said his most significant takeaway from the conference was the importance of transparency. “Even though you know the books are right, it’s important that the membership knows that there’s nothing to hide and that their money is being properly spent and accounted for.”

Melanie Watts, Secretary-Treasurer for Local 142, Unit 4202, said she appreciated getting to meet and learn from ILWU members in every region and division with such diverse experiences. “We learned a lot of practical information and best practices to take back home and implement in our locals,” she said.

Commitment to education

President Adams said that the International 0fficers are committed to membership education and plan on having more frequent Secretary-Treasurers conferences. “Once every six years is not enough,” said Adams. “We should be having one of these every 2 to 3 years. Education is a priority for this administration. It’s about empowering the rank-and-file and growing the next generation of ILWU leaders.”

Categories: Unions

USA: Trump administration is making life easier for business owners and harder for workers

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: NYTimes
Categories: Labor News

Sudan: Security forces move in on Khartoum protesters with live fire

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 06/02/2019 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Guardian
Categories: Labor News

Philippines: Men with knives attack protesting Holcim workers

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 06/01/2019 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Davao Today
Categories: Labor News

Argentina: Anti-austerity strike halts flights, trains, buses

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Canada.com
Categories: Labor News

USA: Assange indictment threatens media freedom

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: EFJ
Categories: Labor News

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