Pressure grows on U.S. ports to fix rigged drayage industry
The Los Angeles City Council is preparing to demand the Port of Los Angeles and other City agencies investigate and report on actions to fix labor problems in the drayage and warehouse industries on port property.
At a Special Meeting of the Trade, Travel, and Tourism Committee on November 28, 2017, Los Angeles City Councilmembers Joe Buscaino (CD 15) and Mike Bonin (CD 11) heard first hand accounts from port drivers and warehouse workers who handle cargo from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach describing unacceptable conditions and treatment.
Reacting to testimony presented at the hearing, the Committee Chair, Councilmember Buscaino, whose district includes the Port of Los Angeles, said, "It is not acceptable for companies to be profiting off people who are being exploited on public property. We are going to do everything we can to help."
Another Committee member, Councilmember Mike Bonin lamented, "I remain haunted by the first gentleman who spoke tonight. The stories we've heard are moving and appalling and disgusting. This is modern day sharecropping. It is incumbent on us to do whatever we can to try to fix this."
This hearing was scheduled after Los Angeles City Councilmembers Joe Buscaino and Bob Blumenfield (CD 3) introduced a motion in October that seeks to ensure that "all workers that contribute to the operations at the Port of Los Angeles be afforded a safe work environment, fair wages, and guaranteed rights and benefits."
Importantly, the motion develops strategies on the feasibility of denying access to companies that are in violation of local, state, and federal laws, including labor and employments laws..." The motion was passed by the Economic Development Committee and Trade, Travel, and Tourism Committee on November 28, and is expected to be passed by the entire Los Angeles City Council before the end of the year.
Meanwhile, Phil Murphy, New Jersey's new governor, has pledged to appoint "a labor commissioner, attorney general and treasurer" who would be "cracking down on 1099 fraud, and either bringing people into compliance, or putting them out of business," especially when it comes to drayage companies at the Port of New Jersey.
As we previously reported on, these actions follow introduction of federal legislation that also highlights the role and responsibility ports have in addressing drayage driver working conditions. Last month, U.S. Representatives Napolitano (D-CA-32) and Nadler (D-NY-10) introduced the Port Drivers Bill of Rights Act (H.R. 4144) and the Clean Ports Act of 2017 (H.R. 4147), a pair of bills that put ports in the crosshairs for fixing drayage driver labor problems. The bills' co-sponsors include Representatives DeFazio (D-OR-4), Lowenthal (D-CA-47), Barragan (D-CA-44), Huffman (D-CA-2), Johnson (D-GA-4), Takano (D-CA-41), and Norton (D-DC-At Large).
Port Innovations is a project of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy's (LAANE) Project for Clean and Safe Ports. LAANE has been working for over seven years to bring community, labor and environmental stakeholders together for a better harbor region.
LAANE is dedicated to supporting the establishment and maintenance of a clean truck fleet at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and to support fair working conditions for port truck drivers.
On Monday, October 2nd, Tuesday, October 3rd and Wednesday, October 4th we took strike authorization votes.
We are very pleased to report the results of the vote as follows:
YES - 209 NO - 103
Negotiations are continuing on the following dates:
Monday, October 16, 2017
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Thursday, October 26, 2017
Friday, October 27, 2017
Monday, October 30, 2017
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
We’d like to thank all of those who supported this effort and participated in these events.
Prior to any strike taking place, there will be additional meetings and voting on either a tentative agreement or a last, best and final offer. Please sign up for receiving text messages with your shop steward.
If you have any questions, please contact a Steward or call your Business Representative Almeta Carter at (714) 887-9279. Thank you to you and your family for your support of the Teamsters Union.
Patrick D. Kelly
Southern California Homeless Advocate,
Huntington Beach City Councilman Republican Billy O'Connell
met with IBT General President James P Hoffa to discuss the homeless issues
On November 3rd in Long Beach there will be a fund raiser
for Colette's Children's Home honoring
Joint Council 42 President
and Local 63 Secretary-Treasurer Randy Cammack
If you are interested in attending or donating to this event please click:
Vice President Don Brewster, Business Representative/ Organizer Bobby Block, Organizer Stan Brown and Staff/ Volunteer Organizers were at the XPO Orange Terminal leafleting information about XPO CEO Bradley Jacobs. Jacobs and XPO are the poster children for cooperate greed. Jacobs received a 481% increase in salary to nearly $6 Million per year all off the workers' backs.
If you are a worker of XPO or would like to volunteer your time in eliminating corporate greed to allow workers to have a voice and a fair living, contact one of our organizers: Stan Brown (714) 501-6106 or Bobby Block (714) 740-6238.
TEAMSTERS FIGHT, TEAMSTERS WIN!
We are pleased to announce that our Local 952 President Grant Maertz has been appointed to serve on the International Brotherhood of Teamsters National Negotiations Committee for the UPS Collective Bargaining Agreement. We know that Grant will do a terrific job representing all of the membership at UPS.
Patrick D. Kelly
PATRICK D. KELLY
Teamsters Local 848 representing 7UP Account Managers and Relief Account Managers conducted an unfair labor practice strike against 7UP (The American Bottling Company) starting on Monday July 24th. These pickets lines were extended to various locations. Members from various Locals including San Fernando and Vernon (Locals 495, 848 & 896), Orange (Local 952), Riverside (Local 63), and San Diego (Local 683) honored those pickets lines.
Picket Lines went down on Tuesday, July 25th at about 4:00 PM.
Local 848 and the 7UP Bargaining Committee
have agreed to go back to the bargaining table.
We want to thank all of our Teamster Brothers and Sisters for your continued support. We will keep you notified of any further developments.
If you have any questions,
please contact Business Representative/Organizer Jeff Sweet at (714) 740-6230
CHANGE TO TEAMSTERS LOCAL 952
EXECUTIVE BOARD Effective Thursday July 21, 2017 Donna Metcalfe has resigned as President of Local 952.
Business Representative/Recording Secretary Grant Maertz has been appointed as successor for President of Local 952.
Business Representative/Organizer Ruben Lopez has been appointed as successor for Recording Secretary of Local 952
DRIVERS WESTSIDE BUILDING MATERIAL
ANAHEIM IS HIRING
CELEBRATE LABOR DAY WEEKEND WITH YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILIES
Brothers and Sisters
On behalf of our members, Executive Board and Staff at Local 952, we want to wish you and your families a great Labor Day Weekend. We want to thank all of the Veterans, Retirees, Senior Members and actives of the Teamsters who have fought so that we may enjoy the benefits and dignity of Teamster Membership and residency in the USA
We have a lot of tough fights going on and coming. We need to remember that as long as we are united and fight we can WIN. Please be sure to make sure that you and your family are registered to vote and we ask all of you to participate in the D.R.I.V.E. program.
Fraternally Patrick D. Kelly, Secretary-Treasurer
*Listen to Patrick D. Kelly's interview on KNX 1070 a.m. on "Mottek on Money", Saturday, September 2 and Sunday, September 3 at 8 pm or the Podcast at this website when it becomes available.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has every reason to smile: His own healthcare won't be affected by the Senate's healthcare bill. (Associated Press) By David Lazarus - Contact Reporter
June 22, 2017 4:10 PM
Secretary-Treasurer Patrick D. Kelly
remarks to the OCTA Board of Directors Meeting
Monday, June 12, 2017
Brothers & Sisters meeting with Strong Labor Supporter Assemblymember Tom Daly in Sacramento.
(L-R) LU986 BA Greg Bashem, LU952 Organizer Stan Brown, LU952 Trustee Rudy Lopez, LU952 Trustee Marlene Salazar, LU952 BA Bobby Block, AM Tom Daly, LU848 VP Louie Diaz, LU952 ST Patrick D. Kelly, LU952 BA Mark E. Woomer, LU952 Trustee Dennis Dodd and LU952 BA Norma Lopez.
Governor Jerry Brown to Sign Bill into Law After Grassroots Outreach to Legislators
After intense lobbying by Teamster retirees from Teamsters Local 952, lawmakers in the State Senate and Assembly approved SB-1, a $52 Billion transportation infrastructure package, sending it to Gov. Jerry Brown. The Democratic governor strongly supports the legislation and is expected to sign it.
The bill, which raises the gas tax, will result in roughly $5 billion per year in infrastructure spending, including a 20 percent investment in transportation infrastructure. The legislation will create good-paying union jobs in the construction and transit industries while also providing some much-needed improvements to roads, highways, and other crucial facilities throughout the state.
Teamster retirees engaged in strategic phone-banking to members of the Assembly and State Senate to persuade elected officials to vote yes on SB-1. More than 500 calls were made in a time span of only three to four hours. The phone-banking clearly made a difference in swaying the handful of undecided legislators that were needed to pass the bill: lawmakers in the Assembly barely cleared the two-thirds super-majority needed to send the legislation to the Governor’s office.
Congratulations to all of our Teamster retirees who volunteered their time to make this happen! Thanks to your efforts, Californians will continue to have good-paying jobs doing work that serves to benefit all of their fellow citizens.
Teamsters Mourn the passing of
Mike Garcia and Celebrate his life
Mike's commitment to building a better future for all families was present in everything he did. He made SEIU a better, bolder and stronger union through his dedication and passion. His legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of SEIU members everywhere.
“I had the privilege and honor of working with brother Garcia for over 25 years. He was the best organizer in the USA in the last 30 years.
I love you Bro..."
Patrick D. Kelly -Secretary-Treasurer Mike Garcia
4/22/1951 – 3/25/17
NOTICE TO ALL BROTHERS & SISTERS!! We are asking for donations for Brother Billy who tragically lost his life while on the job (YRC) Donations to the family can be made to:
Union Yes Federal Credit Union “Friends of Billy De Oss Fund” #89387
1918 W. Chapman Ave., Ste. 100
Orange, CA 92868
LOCAL 952 WALKS THE STRIKE LINE WITH UC WORKERS IN ORANGE, CA
U.S. District Court Upholds Labor Commissioner Awards of Almost $1 Million for Misclassification of Port and Rail Truck Drivers
Los Angeles—A federal court judge has sided with California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su, affirming her office’s judgment in favor of five port and rail truck drivers against XPO Cartage Inc. The ruling awards the drivers reimbursement for expenses and unlawful deductions in the amount of $958,660 plus attorney’s fees and costs.
The Labor Commissioner previously issued awards to the five drivers following hearings that found they had been misclassified as independent contractors. XPO Cartage appealed the five decisions in Superior Court and the case was removed to Federal Court, where attorneys for the Labor Commissioner represented the drivers. After a four-day bench trial and post-trial briefing, U.S. District Court Judge William Keller ruled the cases were not preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 and that all five drivers were misclassified as independent contractors entitled to reimbursement for expenses and unlawful deductions.
“The United States District Court’s decision in this case vindicates the rights of five employees who have sought for years to recoup the deductions unlawfully withheld from their wages due to being misclassified as independent contractors,” said Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su. “My office is dedicated to ensuring workers are paid what they are due under the law and ensuring workers are properly classified.”
State courts have also upheld the Labor Commissioner’s awards in misclassification cases in the port and rail trucking industry. In 2013, Superior Court Judge Michael Vicencia rendered judgment in favor of four port truck drivers and against Seacon Logix Inc. in the amount of $107,802. The Second District Court of Appeal affirmed Judge Vicencia’s judgment in its published decision Garcia v. Seacon Logix, Inc. (2015) 238 Cal.App.4th 1476. In 2015, Superior Court Judge Ross Klein also affirmed the Labor Commissioner’s finding of misclassification and awarded port truck driver Ho Lee $179,390 for reimbursement of expenses and unlawful deductions following a three day bench trial.
The Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, also known as the Labor Commissioner’s Office, inspects workplaces for wage and hour violations, adjudicates wage claims, investigates retaliation complaints, issues licenses and registrations for businesses, enforces prevailing wage rates and apprenticeship standards in public works projects, and educates the public on labor laws. Its Wage Theft is a Crime multilingual public awareness campaign was launched in 2014 to help inform workers of their rights and employers of their responsibilities.
Members of the press may contact Erika Monterroza or Peter Melton at (510) 286-1161, and are encouraged to subscribe to get email alerts on DIR’s press releases or other departmental updates.
Though shovels are ready, Trump officials delay grant for Caltrain upgrade
Washington Post April 22, 2017
SAN JOSE — The railway shuttles 65,000 people a day between San Francisco and San Jose, its cars crammed with Silicon Valley workers tapping on sleek laptops and hoisting bikes into designated cars. But the signs of aging are unmistakable — 1980s control panels devoid of digital technology, the dusting of sea-green foam that has escaped from the seat cushions and settled on the floor.
All of that was supposed to change with the launch of a $2 billion upgrade, underwritten in part by a $647 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration approved days before President Barack Obama left office. But then the Trump administration arrived, and within a month the FTA informed Caltrain that it was “deferring a decision.”
The delay has infuriated California officials, who had hoped the long-awaited project would mesh nicely with President Trump’s call for fresh spending on the nation’s aging infrastructure. But in this era of distrust and polarization, an otherwise popular initiative has become a GOP target, seen as a pet project of the former president.
The move to shelve the grant is reverberating far beyond the Golden State, alarming officials in cities across the nation. The White House wants to slice nearly $1 billion from the transportation budget this year, with the cuts aimed primarily at urban transit projects such as the Purple Line in Maryland’s Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
More cuts may be in store: Trump’s budget request for fiscal 2018 ignores two major New York City projects: an extension of the Second Avenue subway line and a new train tunnel under the Hudson River. In a note to Congress last month, the White House budget office wrote that when it comes to improvements to Caltrain and the D.C. Metro system, “localities should fund these localized projects.”
Christopher Leinberger, chair of George Washington University’s Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis, said the cuts suggest Trump is “playing to the base,” because he got much less support in urban areas than in “drivable suburban locations.”
“This is about pure politics,” Leinberger said
Last month, the American Public Transportation Association sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao calling the Caltrain delay “concerning.” In more than two decades, the association wrote, “no project has failed to secure final signature after successfully meeting evaluation criteria.”
Transportation officials were noncommittal, saying the project would be considered along with other priorities for fiscal 2018.
For Caltrain general manager and chief executive Jim Hartnett, whose company started planning for the upgrade in the late 1990s, the delay is disheartening. The project, which would finance a switch from diesel engines to high-performance electric commuter rail trains, has already received $73 million in federal appropriations but cannot tap the cash without the Transportation Department’s approval.
“We are more than shovel-ready,” Hartnett said. “Our shovel is in the ground and ready to turn.”
At Caltrain’s San Jose Diridon Station last month, company officials pointed out the signs of wear and tear on a railway system that was inaugurated during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency.
More than two-thirds of its locomotives date to 1985; more than half of its passenger trains are that old. There is no diagnostic software. “When something goes wrong, we put in a part and hope for the best,” said Caltrain’s director of rail operations, Joe Navarro.
A few weeks ago, half of the red-and-silver Caltrain signs started peeling off the side of a passenger car at the South San Francisco stop, prompting a half-hour delay. Doing a “midlife” overhaul, which extends a locomotive or passenger car’s life by an additional decade, costs $2.2 million per locomotive and $1.5 million per car.
“We’re the second-oldest railroad west of the Mississippi, and we have advanced that far beyond the steam engine,” Navarro said. “We’re running diesel.”
Caltrain first contemplated an electric rail line two decades ago, but the idea has taken on new urgency as Silicon Valley has boomed and ridership has doubled since 2005.
Officials approached the FTA about the project in 2001, while also tapping local funding sources, including money approved by Proposition 1A, a 2008 ballot measure intended to connect transit projects to the state’s planned high-speed rail system.
This annoyed Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), who chairs a key House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee. Denham has lobbied Chao to deny the grant because the new Caltrain cars would run slower than 220 mph, the rate that defines high-speed rail. He urged California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) to find a different source of state financing for Caltrain and then reapply for the federal money.
“I am supportive of Caltrain and the electrification project, but they have to be funded the right way,” Denham said. “I would expect any new administration to fund what their new transportation policy is going to be and what their priorities are.”
Brown, who met with Chao last month to discuss the grant, said of Denham in a phone interview: “That’s called blackmail.”
Californians “voted for a bond issue” for high-speed rail “but envisioned other projects” using the cash, the governor said. “To go against it is the rawest, stupidest form of politics.”
For the moment, Caltrain has obtained a four-month delay from its contractors in exchange for paying a penalty, meaning it could still proceed with the project if it gets an infusion of federal funds by June 30.
The electrification upgrade is expected to generate 4,700 jobs in more than a dozen states, including Utah, where the new trains would be manufactured. Caltrain officials have reached out to more than a dozen members of the House and Senate who represent areas that would benefit from the project.
In an interview, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) said the project “would be very beneficial to Utah, no question.”
Although it may be challenging to free up the money, Hatch said, “we’re going to do what we can to get that done.”
TRUCK DRIVERS STRIKE AT PORTS OF
LOS ANGELES AND LONG BEACH
Truck drivers and warehouse workers from companies serving Long Beach and Los Angles ports are out on strike. Accoring to a statement, "the truckers are protesting 'exploitation by greedy corporations using predatory subcontracting schemes, including misclassifying employees as independent workers in order to lower wages, deny them benefits such as health insurance, unemployment, and workers compensation".
To Register your vehicle, download registration form above and return via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or in person at Local Union Hall 952 located at 140 S. Marks Way, Orange CA 92686
If you have any questions please contact Jessica Garcia at (714) 740-6218
GOP House Leaders Pull Their Health Bill Opposing factions within the party deal a setback to President Trump, House Speaker Ryan By Siobhan Hughes and Kristina Peterson
Updated March 24, 2017 10:38 p.m. ET
C.B.O. Rates Republican Health Care Plan The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Monday released its estimates of the cost and coverage of the American Health Care Act, the Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.
• Right-to-work laws block unions from charging nonmembers fees as part of the collective bargaining unit
By Tyrone Richardson and Ben Penn
The Trump administration reaffirmed support for right-to-work laws, days after House Republicans reintroduced a bill that would prevent unions from requiring nonmembers to pay representation fees.
“The president believes in right to work. He wants to give workers and companies the flexibility to do what's in the best interest for job creators,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during the Feb. 3 daily news conference. “Obviously the vice president has been a champion of this as well.”
The National Right to Work Act (H.R. 785), introduced by Reps. Joe Wilson (S.C.) and Steve King (Iowa), would prohibit “union security” clauses in collective bargaining agreements, which require nonunion members who are covered by the agreements to pay representation fees. The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Robert Pittenger (N.C.) and Jeff Duncan (S.C.), was referred to the Education and the Workforce Committee Feb. 1. Wilson is vice chairman of the committee.
Similar bills introduced in recent years didn't move, but supporters say GOP control of the White House and Congress could make this time different.
President Donald Trump expressed support for right-to-work laws on the campaign trail during his run for the White House.
Vice President Mike Pence is the former governor of Indiana, which is one of 27 states that has enacted right-to-work laws. That number could increase in coming months, as Missouri and New Hampshire lawmakers consider measures.
TEAMSTER HORIZON AIR PILOTS TAKE LEGAL ACTION TO PROTECT PASSENGERS, IMPROVE BUSINESS, MITIGATE GROWING STAFFING CRISIS
Pilots Say the Alaska Air-Owned Regional Carrier is Breaking the Law With Irresponsible Policies That Have Grounded Flights, Warn of Pilot Strike
(SEATTLE) – Pilots at the SeaTac-based Horizon Air took legal action against their employer on Friday, claiming that executives at the airline broke the law by violating the terms of a labor contract.
Horizon’s actions, the pilots say, are not only illegal, but also bad for business. In the face of a nationwide pilot shortage, Horizon is unable to hire and retain enough pilots to fly the company’s fleet of airplanes—a growing problem that is systemically disrupting the travel plans of loyal customers, jeopardizing the economic vitality of dozens of communities across the Pacific Northwest and risking the financial success of Horizon’s parent company, Alaska Air Group, Inc. (NYSE:ALK).
Horizon Air was forced to cancel 720 flights in December 2016 because there were not enough pilots to fly scheduled routes. Alaska Air instead flew many of the routes on larger planes, adding a significant additional expense for Alaska Air and putting a strain on its staff and regularly scheduled flights.
Horizon’s ability to recruit and retain pilots is strained because pilots at Horizon make substantially less money than pilots at comparable airlines. From last summer through December, the pilots at Horizon had been negotiating with Horizon executives to alter compensation and resolve a severe staffing shortage.
Company executives broke faith with the negotiation process and began making unilateral changes to compensation – a drastic step that will not address the pilot shortage and violates the terms of the Railway Labor Act, a federal law which governs labor relations in the airline industry.
The pilots say they will make strike preparations if executives continue to put the financial stability of Horizon and Alaska at risk and violate the contract agreement. In a September 2016 survey of Horizon pilots, over 80 percent of respondents said they are ready to strike.
“Short-sighted maneuvers won’t solve the staffing problem, and as our airline continues to ground flights, the real victims will be the passengers, customers and communities in the Pacific Northwest that rely on Horizon Air for their livelihood,” said Capt. Jeff Cox, a longtime Horizon pilot and Executive Council Chairman of APA Teamsters Local 1224. “Many of us have worked at Horizon for decades, through thick and thin. We cannot stand idly by and watch executives destroy an operation that provides vital air services to communities throughout the Pacific Northwest.”
Recently, in a desperate attempt to recruit more pilots, Horizon and Alaska executives started offering new Horizon Air pilot recruits signing bonuses – a move that pilots confirm will do nothing to curb the massive retention issues for experienced pilots.
“A one-time payment to new recruits does nothing to address the pilot retention issues at Horizon Air that are already jeopardizing service,” continued Capt. Cox. “While they bring in millions in profits, Horizon and Alaska executives are trying to put a Band-Aid over gaping wounds and forcing our passengers to suffer. The only way we can continue serving our loyal customers in the months and years ahead is to offer industry-standard pay and benefits so we can recruit and retain skilled pilots. We also need a career path that allows Horizon pilots to grow in the nine-time J.D. Power award-winning Alaska family that we are so proud to be part of. The Horizon Air pilots remain ready and willing to negotiate with the company to resolve these long-term issues and are deeply disappointed that the company has not shown the same respect for the bargaining process.”
Alaska Air Group, Inc. brought in $700 million profits in the first nine months of 2016 and recently acquired Virgin America for $2.6 billion. Its subsidiary, Horizon Air, employs approximately 675 pilots and connects passengers on the West Coast, flying routes between Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Alberta and British Columbia in Canada.
Among 16 regional airlines similar in size – including PSA Airlines, Republic Airways, Mesa Airlines and ExpressJet – pay rates for new hires at Horizon Air rank second to last.
"The pilot family at Teamsters Local 1224 stands united with the Horizon pilots. We will not stand by and allow Horizon Air and Alaska Air executives to ignore the provisions of the contract and willfully disregard negotiations with the pilot group by unilaterally changing the terms and conditions of employment," said Daniel C. Wells, president of the Airline Professionals Association Teamsters Local 1224.
The lawsuit was filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.
HOFFA: WITHDRAWAL FROM TPP THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR U.S. TRADE POLICY
Trump Administration Signals New Approach to Trade Policy
(WASHINGTON) – The following is a statement from Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa on President Donald Trump signing an executive order to formally withdraw the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership. Withdrawal
“Today, President Trump made good on his campaign promise to withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. With this decision, the president has taken the first step toward fixing 30 years of bad trade policies that have cost working Americans millions of good-paying jobs.
“The Teamsters Union has been on the frontline of the fight to stop destructive trade deals like the TPP, China PNTR, CAFTA and NAFTA for decades. Millions of working men and women saw their jobs leave the country as free trade policies undermined our manufacturing industry. We hope that President Trump’s meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Jan. 31 opens a real dialogue about fixing the flawed NAFTA.
“We take this development as a positive sign that President Trump will continue to fulfill his campaign promises in regard to trade policy reform and instruct the USTR to negotiate future agreements that protect American workers and industry.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.
Why Workers Everywhere Should Be
Scared by Kentucky's Assault on Unions
By John Nichols Twitter thenation.com
“A lot of working people voted for change in this election,” argued Bill Finn, the director of the Kentucky State Building and Construction Trades Council, as Kentucky legislators were shredding labor rights in the Bluegrass State. “They didn’t vote for this. They didn’t vote for a pay cut.”
Finn got that right. Kentucky Republicans launched the new year with a race to enact sweeping anti-labor legislation, and they weren’t concerning themselves with the question of whether they had a mandate to assault labor unions and undermine wages and workplace protections. They are moving immediately, aggressively, and thoroughly to implement an across-the-board assault on workers and the unions that represent them.
And with just two weeks to go before Donald Trump is inaugurated as president, Kentucky Republicans were doing something else. They were providing a powerful reminder of the threat to working families that arises when Republicans gain “trifecta control” (taking charge of the executive branch and both legislative chambers) of the governing process. Until this year, Democrats controlled the Kentucky House of Representatives and were able to block anti-labor legislation that was advanced by Republican Governor Matt Bevin and his allies in the Republican-controlled state Senate—with strong backing from national anti-union groups financed by the Koch brothers and other billionaire donors. But in November Republicans won a majority in the Kentucky House. That gave them complete control of the process, and they made it their first priority to approve anti-labor measures.
Union busting moved onto a fast track in Kentucky, where Republican legislators refused to even consider the arguments of workers, community leaders, responsible business owners, and academics who explained that assaults of worker rights do little or nothing to promote economic development—and much to harm working families. Among those expressing thoughtful opposition to the anti-union measures that were approved by Kentucky legislators was Bishop John Stowe of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lexington, who wrote in an open letter that “The weakening of unions by so-called ‘right to work’ laws, has been shown to reduce wages and benefits overall in the states where such laws have been enacted. This cannot be seen as contributing to the common good.”
When Republicans take full control of the executive and legislative branches of government, workers are threatened.
Unfortunately, there was no stopping Kentucky’s newly empowered Republicans. They were on a deliberate and determined mission that was not going to be delayed by economic, social, or moral arguments. “The chants of union workers were little deterrent to Gov. Matt Bevin and his GOP colleagues in the Kentucky House and Senate, who have made approving the bills their top priority of the 2017 General Assembly,” the Lexington Herald-Leader reported Wednesday. “Shouts and banging could be heard from the hallway, but the meeting room itself was packed with supporters as the House Committee on Economic Development and Workforce Investment passed House Bill 1, which would allow workers to avoid paying union dues even if they work under a union-negotiated contract, and House Bill 3, which would repeal the prevailing wage law.”
By the weekend, the anti-labor initiatives had been approved.
“Trump’s true priority [is] assaulting the rights of working people and helping corporate CEOs line their pockets.”
Kentucky is just one state. But this is not a one-state phenomenon. Kentucky Republicans followed a playbook written by Republican governors such as Wisconsin’s Scott Walker. That playbook suggests that, upon grabbing the reins of power, Republicans should move immediately to undermine unions that might support Democrats and that argue for maintaining public services and public education. Former Indiana governor Mike Pence, the incoming vice president, is a Walker-allied anti-labor zealot. And he is already working closely with House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Walker ally from Wisconsin, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who praised the anti-labor push in his homestate of Kentucky, on the new administration’s agenda. Trump has already sent a strong anti-labor signal with the nomination of corporate CEO Andrew Puzder, a harsh critic of proposals to raise the federal minimum wage, to serve as secretary of labor.
The stakes are higher now than ever. Get The Nation in your inbox.
No one should be fooled by this president-elect’s attempts to portray himself as a friend of workers. Trump and Pence were elected on a militantly anti-labor Republican platform that is dismissive of the federal minimum wage, declaring (in a stance similar to the one Trump appears to have evolved toward) that decisions about base hourly wages “should be handled at the state and local level.” That platform endorsed the anti-union “right-to-work” laws enacted by Republican governors such as Walker, and calls for taking the anti-union crusade national with a proposal “for a national law” along “right-to-work” lines. The 2016 GOP platform also attacked the use of the Fair Labor Standard Act to protect workers; ripped the use of Project Labor Agreements to raise wages and improve working conditions; and proposed to gut the 85-year-old Davis-Bacon Act, which guarantees “prevailing wage” pay for workers on federal projects.
There may still be a few Republicans who recognize the historic GOP position, as stated by President Abraham Lincoln, that “Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.” But they are few and far between. And the evidence from Kentucky suggests that the combination of a Republican executive with Republican-controlled legislative chambers — which the United States will see on January 20 — must be recognized as a threat to workers.
Last July, after Trump selected Pence as his running mate, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said,
Everything Donald Trump says shows he is desperate to be working people’s friend, but everything Donald Trump does proves he is our enemy. This decision proves that he does not stand with working families. Mike Pence might be the right choice for Donald Trump, but he’s the wrong choice for America… Mike Pence once again proves Donald Trump’s true priority of assaulting the rights of working people and helping corporate CEO’s line their pockets.
Trumka was right to be wary. Workers should be preparing, with a sense of urgency, to push back as the Republicans who control the White House and the Congress bring their anti-union agenda to Washington.