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Kyrgyzstan: Stop union-busting now!

 

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The corrupt SEIU-CHA deal

NUHW is doing its part to expose the corruption that lies at the heart of the deal between SEIU and the California Hospital Association. We have a summary of the deal's shady details on our website, as well as an editorial by NUHW President Sal Rosselli. Recent media coverage of the deal includes SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan's effort to punish those hospitals who he failed to successfully blackmail into signing onto the deal. 




Grain talks break down on Day One
foreign grain companies refuse to discuss ILWU-TEMCO agreement

Union offers ILWU-TEMCO agreement as a template for negotiations; employer group refuses to budge from their November 16 ‘last, best and final’ proposal which members rejected by more than 90%

PORTLAND, OR (March 22, 2013) – Negotiations between the ILWU Locals 4, 8, 19, 21 and 23 and three members of the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers’ Association broke down today during the first bargaining session the two sides have scheduled in three months. The union ratified an interim collective bargaining agreement with U.S.-based TEMCO, a joint venture between Cargill and CHS, and offered the ratified agreement for the remaining members of the multi-employer group to review. The three foreign-based employers refused to even discuss the TEMCO agreement, and talks broke down. The second day of scheduled bargaining has been cancelled, and no additional talks are scheduled.

Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association members include:

Employer Status
U.S.-based Cargill and CHS (Three TEMCO elevators in Tacoma, Kalama and Portland) Ratified 5-year interim collective bargaining agreement with ILWU in March 2013.
Japan-based Mitsui (owner of United Grain in Vancouver) Locked out ILWU workers on February 27, 2013. Implemented November 16 proposal on December 26, 2012. Refusing to consider TEMCO agreement.
Japan-based Marubeni (owner of Columbia Grain in Portland) Implemented November 16 proposal on December 26, 2012. Refusing to consider TEMCO agreement.
Netherlands-based Louis Dreyfus Commodities (owner of two elevators in Seattle and Portland) Implemented November 16 proposal on December 26, 2012. Refusing to consider TEMCO agreement.

Upon learning the development from the negotiating committee today, ILWU International President Robert McEllrath said, “It’s pure greed that’s stopping these profitable foreign grain merchants from reaching a win-win agreement with workers as their American counterpart TEMCO has done They have a proposal before them that meets the needs of workers and the employer, yet they refuse to consider any fair proposals.”

“The foreign employers refused to consider any proposal from the union other than complete acceptance of the employer’s deeply concessionary ‘last, best and final’ offer that members rejected by more than 90% in December,” said Leal Sundet, ILWU Coast Committeeman and co-chair of the union’s negotiating committee. “That’s not negotiating; it’s outright bad faith bargaining.”

Last week, Washington’s two U.S. senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, wrote to both sides urging them to reach a fair agreement. That letter is available at this link.

Background

ILWU members have been loading grain onto ships at Northwest ports since the 1930’s. In the decades since, collective bargaining agreements between the union and the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association were reached without major conflicts. That changed in 2011, when a new, overseas-based grain export company, EGT, built a $200 million facility in Longview, Washington, and refused to negotiate in good faith with the ILWU, touching off months of protests that eventually resulted in a first agreement between the ILWU and EGT in February 2012. Shortly afterward, the multi-employer group represented by the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association began demanding concessions to their own successful 80-year-old grain agreement.

The four companies that constitute the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association multi-employer group negotiated to impasse with Locals 4, 8, 19, 21 and 23 – which also bargained as a group. The companies insisted on hard line non-starter proposals and refused to budge before the grain contract expired in September, 2012. By November, they demanded that the union accept a deeply-concessionary contract. That proposal was rejected by 94% of the union members who voted in late December. At that point, three companies (not including TEMCO), emboldened by the Taft-Hartley “slave act,” imposed their “final offer,” a concessionary agreement.

Meanwhile, TEMCO, a joint venture of an American farmer cooperative and the American corporation Cargill, declined to participate with the three other grain companies that imposed the concessionary agreement. Instead, TEMCO agreed to employ longshore workers under the expired grain agreement while continuing to negotiate an interim agreement. The union and TEMCO were able to reach terms on a five-year interim agreement that was ratified by members and signed on March 9. The TEMCO/ILWU agreement is subject to modification in order to reflect an eventual agreement between the ILWU and entire Pacific Northwest Grain handlers Association. The interim agreement does not break up the multi-employer group, and the interim agreement is subject to whatever agreement is finally reached with the whole group.

-- ILWU Coast Longshore News Release

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March 22nd, 2013 | Tags: ,,, | Category: Global SolidarityGrainLongshore NewsPortsShipping News,Unions |


SEIU's concessions at Kaiser
  A statement from NUHW President Sal Rosselli Two years ago, NUHW members at Kaiser Permanente made a decision: at a time when Kaiser is making billions in profits, there’s no reason for workers to agree to the benefit cuts that Kaiser put on the bargaining table.  So along with our allies in the California Nurses Association and the Stationary Engineers, we fought back. Our campaign to win a fair contract for Kaiser caregivers has included four separate strikes, including the two biggest walkouts in Kaiser’s history. Through these actions, we have stopped Kaiser from imposing any cuts on NUHW members.
 

Kaiser and SEIU reached a tentative collective bargaining agreement at 3am Friday morning. We do not know what that agreement contains. SEIU, as usual, is refusing to share the language of the agreement with members. Withholding contract language and misleading members about what was agreed to has become standard practice for SEIU officials. In the past, SEIU claimed to have settled a contract with no takeaways at Catholic Healthcare West. Later on, workers learned that their pension benefits had been given away.
 

What we have heard about the tentative agreement, however, points     ActNOW A LabourStart campaign Swaziland: Stop the Crackdown on Public Workers     In partnership with the Education International, representing 30 million educators in education institutions from early childhood to university, and     Public Services International, representing 20 million working women and men who deliver vital public services in 150 countries, and     The International Transport Workers Federation, a global federation of 690 unions representing over 4.5 million transport workers in 153 countries .  Public workers in Swaziland have been on strike since 21 June. They are demanding a pay rise of 4.5 per cent, well below the rate of inflation in Swaziland and a mere fraction of the 30 per cent pay rise that Swaziland’s parliamentarians have awarded themselves.  The strikers have been met by dismissals, riot police and armed forces’ intimidation and beatings, tear gas and rubber bullets. On 12 July, peacefully protesting public sector trade union members were fired upon by police – resulting in hospitalisation and injuries of at least 12 persons, some who were members of the Swaziland National Association of Civil Servants (SNACS) and the Swaziland Nurses Association (SNA).  Since 1 August, the government has also fired hundreds of teachers across the country, including the entire executive of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT). (Pictured: SNAT General Secretary Muzi Mhlanga.) On 3 August, the Industrial Court of Swaziland found that those dismissals were unlawful and requested the government to withdraw the letters of dismissal issued to the teachers.  The ITF has also expressed strong concerns at the arrest and detention of Bazel Tfwala, legal officer of the Swaziland Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (STAWU). Simanga Shongwe, General Secretary of STAWU was also detained whilst protesting Tfwala's arrest.  Join us in condemning the governmental crackdown on Swazi public workers by sending this message to Mswati III, King of Swaziland, urging him to meet the legitimate demands of public servants; and to ensure the immediate and unconditional reinstatement of dismissed public service workers and teachers. You can help! Type in your name and email address, then click on 'Send Message' on the bottom of this page.  Name: [required] Email address: [required] Your union/organization: Your country: Type in your message here - or just use the existing message.  Your Majesty, I am writing to condemn the crackdown on public workers in Swaziland and the recent dismissal of hundreds of public service workers and teachers. The teachers and other public employees in Swaziland have been on strike since 21 June. They are demanding a pay rise of 4.5 per cent, well below the rate of inflation in Swaziland. Until now, the strikers have been met by dismissals, riot police and armed forces’ intimidation and beatings, tear gas and rubber bullets. On 3 August, the Industrial Court of Swaziland found that the dismissals of teachers for participating in a lawful strike action were unfair and requested your government to withdraw the letters of dismissal. I urge your government to immediately engage in dialogue with public servants and meet their legitimate demands; and to ensure the immediate and unconditional reinstatement of dismissed public services workers and teachers. Yours sincerely,  If you would like to receive future urgent action alerts from us, please check this box:  Stop spam!Enter the number 1519 here:  Thank you!      Your message will be sent to the following email addresses: mbulig@gov.sz, dlaminimb@gov.sz, ps_education@gov.sz, PS_MOPS@gov.sz, rights@ei-ie.or to substantial shortcomings. We understand that the tentative agreement includes cuts to retiree health benefits. When the former leadership of UHW prior to the trusteeship achieved retiree health coverage at Kaiser, it was a groundbreaking achievement. SEIU allowing Kaiser to weaken that standard is a significant setback. We also know that SEIU is forcing workers into a ‘wellness program’ that requires employees to divulge private, personal information for Kaiser’s benefit. We know that SEIU has allowed the wage gap between Northern and Southern California Kaiser workers to widen still further. And we know that once again, there will be no local bargaining following ratification, so locally focused concerns will go entirely unaddressed.
 

On Friday, Kaiser announced that in the first quarter of this year, the company generated another $770 million in profits. Why, at a time when Kaiser has made nearly $7 billion in profits in the last three years, is SEIU agreeing to any concessions at all? 

We await further information about SEIU’s settlement with Kaiser, especially as it pertains to healthcare coverage and retirement benefits. Over the last few weeks, thousands of SEIU members at Kaiser have signed our petition to “Just Say No” to a contract with benefit cuts, in order to prevent Kaiser and SEIU from making the back room deal we know they’ve been negotiating for months behind closed doors. We hope that the commitment and determination of the many workers who signed that petition had its intended effect, and that SEIU’s agreement with Kaiser really does preserve existing healthcare and retirement benefits for tens of thousands of Kaiser workers. If so, our fight will have been a victory for everyone.

Sincerely,

Sal Rosselli

President, National Union of Healthcare Workers


 

Lessons for Wisconsin From the Flint Sit Down Strikes of 1936-37

 

    Dr Mark Naison

    Fordham University

     

       With the state legislature in Wisconsion occupied and surrounded by thousands of state workers and their supporters, and with schools closed throughout the state because of teachers calling in sick, I cannot help but think of the greatest strike and building occupation in the history of the American labor movement- the Flint Sit Down Strikes of 1936-37.  Though the Wisconsin struggle is being led by government workers, and the Flint Strikes involved workers involved in automobile production, both movements took place during the worst economic crisis of their era and were fighting for the same goal- collective bargaining rights for working people through a union of their own choosing- and were much more about dignity and respect than about income.   

     

          The Flint Strike, which involved the occupation of 9 General Motors automobile plants over a  six week period, transformed the history of the industrial labor movement.  During December of 1936, when the first GM plant was seized and occupied, the entire automobile and steel industries in the United States were union free. When the strike was finally settled, both General Motors and United States Steel agreed to bargain collectively with the CIO ( Congress of Industrial Organizations) unions seeking to organize their industries.   

     

          The Flint Strike , though it was precipitated by local conditions- a fierce unrelenting speed up on the GM assembly line , the involvement of a Ku Klux Klan like organization called the Black Legion in suppressing labor unrest in GM plants- was part of a national movement to win bargaining rights for industrial workers. As a result, the Flint workers were supported by the national leadership of the CIO-led by the formidable John L Lewis- as well as their own national union, and numerous leftwing organizations including the Communist Party.  Though only GM workers actually occupied the factories, at key points in the strike, thousands of union workers  were mobilized to come down from other cities to make sure that right wing Citizens Committees were unable to storm the plants, and that food and medical supplies were delivered to the striking workers.  There were also doctors, nurses, lawyers, and journalists who came from all over the country to help the strikers.    By the second week of the sit-down strikes, it was clear to everyone involved that this had become a truly national movement

     

        The same dynamic must operate if the Wisconsin movement is to achieve its main goal- removal from the governor’s legislative program of any effort to weaken the bargaining rights of public workers in the state.  Unions around the nation who face similar initiatives ( in Ohio, Tennessee and New Jersey) must send delegations to join the occupation and the protests and give whatever financial and legal support is necessary to teachers who are keeping the local schools closed.  National union leaders who have a high public profile, people like Richard Trumka and Randy Weingarten, must not only come to Madison to offer their support of the movement, they must head straight to the White House to demand that President Obama and Democratic Congressional leaders come out aggressively in support of the Madison movement. Student social justice organizations must send delegations to Madison to join the thousands of students at the state’s public universities who have been a central part of this movement from the beginning.

     

      This movement has to be approached as the single most important labor struggle in the United States in the 21st Century. If the governor destroys collective bargaining for public workers in Wisconsin, you can be sure that similar initiatives will succeed in other states. If he

    Is forced to take attacks on collective bargaining off the table by the strength of the protest,  it will reinvigorate not only the entire labor movement in the United States, but the movement  to prevent Congress and state legislatures from destroying what little of a safety net we have in the United States of America

     

     The stakes could not be higher. So if you are in a union or part of a progressive  organization, press your leadership to send people to Wisconsin. Insist your elected representatives pass resolutions in support of the Wisconsin movement.  And get ready to fight the same battle in your own state when the time comes

     

    Solidarity Foreover!

     

    Mark Naison

    February 18, 2011