Category: Labor
Argentina’s oil workers threaten STRIKE if government doesn’t greenlight private Covid-19 vaccine purchase
worker | June 3, 2021 | 8:39 pm | Argentina, Labor, Latin America | No comments

https://www.rt.com/news/525518-argentina-oil-strike-coronavirus/

Argentina’s oil workers threaten STRIKE if government doesn’t greenlight private Covid-19 vaccine purchase

Argentina’s oil workers threaten STRIKE if government doesn't greenlight private Covid-19 vaccine purchase
Argentina’s largest oil workers union is eager to buy coronavirus vaccines on its own, warning that it will be forced to go on strike to protect the health of its members if the government doesn’t quickly authorize the sale.

The Rio Negro, Neuquen and La Pampa Private Oil and Gas Union – which has 24,000 members, many of whom are employed at the Vaca Muerta shale oil formation – insisted that it would only wait until the end of next week for permission from the government in Buenos Aires.

“If there are no answers to our request [by Friday, June 11], we are going to withdraw from our jobs to protect the health of all our colleagues,” Guillermo Pereyra, the union’s leader, warned in a statement on Wednesday, adding “we have raised this situation with the health authorities and so far we have not achieved anything.”

ALSO ON RT.COMStriking health workers in Argentina reject govt’s 53% salary increase, maintaining road blockade to country’s biggest shale siteThe vaccines purchased by the government are currently being given to senior citizens and priority workers. So far, 12.8 million doses, including Russia’s Sputnik V, have been administered in Argentina, which has a population of 45 million. Pereyra, however, said the union would rather buy its own immunizations.

“We don’t want to get vaccinations from anyone or to be assigned items that are intended for the elderly, educators, health personnel or people at risk. We are willing to pay for them,” he continued.

According to earlier reports, the union was considering purchasing 50,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from Israel, which remained unused as the country largely relied on Pfizer’s inoculation.

Covid-19 cases have surged in Argentina as it sees a second wave of the pandemic, with the country reporting a record daily death toll of 745 people in mid-May. So far, it has seen 3.82 million infections and 78,733 coronavirus-related deaths nationwide since the outbreak kicked off in late 2019.

Argentinian port workers earlier went on strike over lack of access to vaccines and only returned to the job a week ago after making sure that the government included them in the priority group. Healthcare workers have also joined strikes in recent months, with some blocking roads to the Vaca Muerta shale site in April while demanding an immediate pay increase amid the health crisis.

ALSO ON RT.COMArgentine president tests positive for Covid-19 after Russia’s Sputnik V shot, but researchers say he will recover swiftlyLike this story? Share it with a friend!

Amazon Knew Employees Had to Urinate in Bottles During Work Despite Earlier Denials, Report Says
worker | March 28, 2021 | 7:56 pm | Labor | Comments closed

https://sputniknews.com/us/202103261082455254-amazon-knew-employees-had-to-urinate-in-bottles-during-work-despite-earlier-denials-report-says/

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The revelation is yet another blow to Amazon, which has been repeatedly accused of mistreatment of its employees. Earlier this week, Vice reported that delivery drivers are given a choice of signing a form on biometric data or losing their job.

While Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos saw his net worth grow by $70 billion last year, his employees had to urinate in bottles and defecate in bags for fear of missing delivery rates, the Intercept reported citing documents provided by employees. What seems to be more shocking is that the company was aware of that despite earlier denying the reports.

Documents given to the Intercept show an email sent by an Amazon manager criticising employees for relieving themselves while on the job.

“This evening, an associate discovered human faeces in an Amazon bag that was returned to station by a driver”, the email reads. “This is the 3rd occasion in the last 2 months when bags have been returned to station with poop inside. We understand that DA’s [driver associates] may have emergencies while on-road, and especially during COVID, DAs have struggled to find bathrooms while delivering”, reads the email.

​One Amazon employee told the Intercept that delivery drivers are “implicitly forced to do so, otherwise we will end up losing our jobs for too many ‘undelivered packages'”.

The news comes a day after Amazon denied allegations of mistreatment of workers on social media in a comment to a Democratic legislator.

Other Accusations

The company’s motto is “Work Hard. Have Fun. Make History”, but it appears Amazon doesn’t live up to it, as the latest revelation is yet another accusation of mistreatment of employees. Last year, it was revealed that the company failed to adopt measures necessary to protect workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Employees complained of lack of protective equipment and failure to notify workers when their colleagues contracted the coronavirus.

 

Earlier this week, Vice reported that delivery drivers were given a choice of signing a form, which allows the company collect biometric data, or losing their jobs. According to the outlet, workers were essentially forced to sign the document, which allows Amazon to use AI-powered cameras in the cabins of delivery trucks.

The devices produced by tech company Netradyne monitor drivers’ body and facial movements, are able to sense when a driver is distracted, yawns or is not wearing a seatbelt and shows drivers’ location

Amazon said the use of AI-cameras will improve “safety” and “quality of delivery service”.

“Netradyne cameras are used to help keep drivers and the communities where we deliver safe. We piloted the technology from April to October 2020 on over two million miles of delivery routes and the results produced remarkable driver and community safety improvements—accidents decreased 48 percent, stop sign violations decreased 20 percent, driving without a seatbelt decreased 60 percent, and distracted driving decreased 45 percent. Don’t believe the self-interested critics who claim these cameras are intended for anything other than safety”, said company spokesperson Deborah Bass.

It seems Amazon employees beg to differ. According to Reuters, some drivers quit their jobs citing privacy concerns.

The ‘$15 minimum wage is too expensive for Peoria’ argument doesn’t hold water: Five reasons why
worker | March 8, 2021 | 7:55 pm | Labor, Minimum Wage | Comments closed
The ‘$15 minimum wage is too expensive for Peoria’ argument doesn’t hold water: Five reasons why

https://www.epi.org/blog/the-15-minimum-wage-is-too-expensive-for-peoria-argument-doesnt-hold-water-five-reasons-why/

 

The one argument made often in the debate over raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour nationwide by 2024, is that you can’t expect to pay the same wages in Chicago as you do in Peoria.

Such an increase, critics contend, will bankrupt small businesses, will impact payroll decisions for corporations with operations nationally, will raise wages beyond what folks outside of big cities need to make ends meet—and will ultimately hurt local economies.

Turns out, these arguments are bogus.

Here are five reasons why:

1. $15 anywhere in this country makes cost-of-living sense.

Today, in all areas across the United States, a single adult without children needs at least $31,200—what a full-time worker making $15 an hour earns annually—to achieve a modest but adequate standard of living. By 2025, workers in these areas and those with children will need even more, according to projections based on the Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator.

For example, in rural Missouri, a single adult without children will need $39,800 (more than $19 per hour for a full-time worker) by 2025 to cover typical rent, food, transportation, and other basic living costs.

In larger metro areas of the South and Southwest—where the majority of the Southern population live—a single adult without children will also need more than $15 an hour by 2025 to get by: $20.03 in Fort Worth, $21.12 in Phoenix, and $20.95 in Miami.

In more expensive regions of the country, a single adult without children will need far more than $15 an hour by 2025 to cover the basics: $28.70 in New York City, $24.06 in Los Angeles, and $23.94 in Washington, D.C.

2. Expensive cities are already at $15 an hour or higher.

Since the Fight for $15 was launched by striking fast-food workers in 2012, nine states (California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Virginia) and the District of Columbia—together representing approximately 40% of the U.S. workforce—have approved raising their minimum wages to $15 an hour.

Additional states—including Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Vermont, Missouri, Michigan, and Maine—have approved minimum wages ranging from $12 to $14.75 an hour.

3. Many business owners and corporate executives are realizing the value of a $15 minimum wage.

In states that have already approved $15 minimum wages, business organizations representing thousands of small businesses have endorsed a $15 minimum wage.

Business groups that have endorsed a $15 minimum wage include Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, the American Sustainable Business Council, the Patriotic Millionaires, the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, the Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce, and others.

Growing numbers of employers have responded to pressure from workers and raised their starting pay scales to $15 or higher. These include retail giants Amazon, Whole Foods (owned by Amazon), Target, Walmart, Wayfair, Costco, Hobby Lobby, and Best Buy; employers in the food service and producing industries, such as Chobani, Starbucks, Sanderson Farms (Mississippi), and the Atlanta-area locations of Lidl grocery stores; health care employers, including Michigan’s Henry Ford Health System and Trinity Health System, Ohio’s Akron Children’s Hospital and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Iowa’s Mercy Medical Center and MercyCare Community Physicians, Missouri’s North Kansas City Hospital and Meritas Health, and Maryland’s LifeBridge Health; insurers and banks such as Amalgamated Bank, Allstate, Wells Fargo, and Franklin Savings Bank in New Hampshire; and tech and communications leaders such as Facebook and Charter Communications.

4. Workers making a higher minimum wage are less likely to be dependent on public assistance, reducing the burden on cash-strapped state and local governments.

In states without laws to raise the minimum wage to $15, nearly half (47%, or 10.5 million) of families of workers who would benefit from the Act rely on public supports programs in part because they do not earn enough at work.

These workers and their families account for nearly one-third of total enrollment in one or more public supports programs.

In states without a $15 minimum wage law, public supports programs for underpaid workers and their families make up 42% of total spending on Medicaid and CHIP (the Children’s Health Insurance Program), cash assistance (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF), food stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP), and the earned income tax credit (EITC), and cost federal and state taxpayers more than $107 billion a year.

5. When low-wage workers get a raise, they’re more likely than higher-wage workers to spend every extra dollar they earn on basic necessities—putting that money right back into the economy.

From a general macroeconomic perspective, raising the minimum wage in a period of depressed consumer demand is smart policy (though it is worth keeping in mind that the minimum wage wouldn’t go to $15 immediately under the Raise the Wage Act, it would be phase in in five gradual steps, reaching $15 in 2025).

Minimum wage hikes put extra dollars in the pockets of people who are highly likely to spend every additional cent they receive, often just to make ends meet. Workers who benefit from an increased minimum wage disproportionately come from low-income households that spend a larger share of their income than business owners, corporate shareholders, and higher-income households, who are likely to save at least some portion of the dollars that finance a minimum wage hike. As a result, raising the minimum wage boosts overall consumer demand, with research showing that past raises have spurred greater household buying, notably on dining out and automobiles.

(Related post: Why the U.S. needs a $15 minimum wage: How the Raise the Wage Act would benefit U.S. workers and their families.)

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WFTU is organising a virtual international celebration event for women trade unionists on March 8, 2021 at 16.00 Greek Time
worker | March 5, 2021 | 7:53 pm | Labor, struggle for the equality of women, WFTU | Comments closed

WFTU is organising a virtual international celebration event for women trade unionists on March 8, 2021 at 16.00 Greek Time

 

http://www.wftucentral.org/the-wftu-poster-for-the-international-womens-day-march-8th-2021/

In Winter Storms, Texas Leadership Failed
worker | February 24, 2021 | 7:55 pm | Labor, Local/State | Comments closed
Tariff Follies
worker | November 20, 2020 | 7:47 pm | Labor, USW | Comments closed

http://zzs-blg.blogspot.com/2020/11/tariff-folies.html

Tariff Follies

To its credit, The United Steelworker (USW) has lifted the living standards and working conditions of millions of workers. Birthed from the militant 1930s Steel Workers Organizing Committee and midwifed by hundreds of Communist and socialist organizers, the USW became a strong advocate of industrial unionism and one of the more progressive forces in US political life.

But with the Cold War and the purging or repression of its most militant members, the USW abandoned the class-confrontation approach of its early years for a partnership with capital. In place of exercising the strength and power of a united membership, the union leadership chose a partnership approach, negotiating contracts based upon the notion that the worker and the boss had a common interest.

In the contest of the early Cold war, capital accepted some concessions to labor to guarantee US labor’s loyalty to US foreign policy objectives. In return for US labor leaders policing domestic radicalism in the workplace and for international collaboration in fighting Communism, the bosses tacitly agreed to accept wage and benefit growth commensurate with rising productivity.

With the onset of the economic crisis in the 1970s and with the ruling class turning toward market fundamentalism, capital reneged on its part of the partnership, attacking labor with vengeance. The implicit partnership was dissolved by one side.

Unfortunately, the other side– organized labor (in this case, the USW)– clung to the partnership. Despite restructuring, downsizing, plant closures, and concession demands, the USW stood by the philosophy of cooperation, what their critics called “class collaboration.”

Since we can remember, one expression of this affinity with corporate bosses has taken the form of seeking protection from foreign competitors. From inviting workers to sledgehammer Toyotas to advocating for steel tariffs, the USW leadership has maintained that what is good for steel corporations doing business in the USA is good for USW steelworkers.

In recent years, the protectionist demand was at odds with the political mainstream, including the union’s putative ally, the Democratic Party. Since the rise of Thatcher/Carter/Reagan/Clintonism, unfettered free markets have been an ideological fixation of all the bourgeois parties and their policy makers, placing tariffs and other protectionist policies beyond the pale.

But in 2016, the USW leadership found their savior. Donald Trump rudely arrived to occupy the White House.

Moreover, he kept his promise in 2018 to impose restrictive tariffs on all the imported steel coming into the United States. Unfortunately for the USW and their bet on protectionism, the Trump tariffs failed to meet their expectations. As The Wall Street Journal reports: “With the expanded production, about 6,000 jobs were added to the U.S. steel industry’s workforce after tariffs started in 2018, according to the Census Bureau. By the end of 2019, though, those gains evaporated as steel demand and prices sank.” [my emphasis]

Authors Bob Tita and William Mauldin (Tariffs Didn’t Fuel Revival for American Steel, WSJ, 10-28-2020) add that: “Higher prices [initially] also made steel more expensive for manufacturers that buy it, leading to the loss of about 75,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs, according to a study released late last year by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.”

In addition, foreign steel makers secured punitive export tariffs in retaliation, further hurting domestic US manufacturing.

The lack of growth in demand for steel in the USA has forced domestic producers to seek exports of steel to markets outside the USA in search of profits, the same strategy practiced by the “foreign” competition.

A major component of Trump’s 2016 victorious campaign message which helped him secure votes in the Rust Belt was his promise of major investment to rebuild infrastructure and create jobs. It never got off the ground because it was based on the false notion that capitalists will invest in the public good. Things like fixing public schools, hospitals, water systems, pollution control, and building mass transit systems simply don’t offer returns to investors even though they will provide for the public good, boost steel production, and create tens of thousands of steelworker jobs.

Instead, Trump, true to his real, big-business agenda, pushed a major tax cut that actually reduced the revenue available for any public investment. Rather than drain the swamp, Trump drained the public coffers and offered the syrup of “public private partnerships” that were supposed to entice capitalists to invest. They never did.

Not to be outdone, The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that the Republican-controlled legislature of Pennsylvania has now taken this phony concept to its practical conclusion which will result in the proposed tolling of many bridges in Pennsylvania as a way of making the “partnership” work to increase state revenues. Rather than tax the wealth of billionaires and corporations to obtain necessary revenues to rebuild in the public interest, we instead have tax cuts for the rich and privatization of necessary networks and services.

Understandably, the US-based steel industry sought to garner greater market share through the tariff program. However, the USW leadership failed to acknowledge one of the more basic laws of capitalism: with tariff-induced prices soaring and foreign competition locked out, domestic capitalist enterprises were incentivized to engage in an orgy of expansion and production. As a result of this classic overproduction-induced crisis, prices collapsed and the industry withdrew, with layoffs and closed facilities. Prices for hot-rolled coiled sheet steel increased by nearly half to $920 a ton after the tariffs were imposed, but are now below their pre-tariff level.

The advocates of tariffs as a remedy for layoffs and stagnant or declining wages and benefits forget that capitalism runs on profits and not sharing the wealth. The Communist, socialist, and other militant trade unionists who founded the union understood this truth. They sought a union that would fight the corporations for a greater portion of those profits for the workers.

Today’s leadership of the USW mistakenly believes that workers will benefit if “our” corporations are favored over “theirs.” They fantasize a world where foreigners are rapacious cheaters and US producers are inspired by the greater good. “Theirs” are driven by ruthless competition, while “ours” are committed to fairness and partnership. Lurking beneath the rhetoric is a not-too-subtle national chauvinism.

Surely, the experience with the Trump tariffs reveals that the protectionist approach not only slanders foreigners, but fails to protect domestic production, jobs, and compensation. Domestic producers, like their foreign counterparts, are ruled by the laws of motion of the capitalist system. Bust follows boom, whether it applies to a protected national market or a global unfettered market.

The union’s reliance on this cooperative approach with the steel corporations defangs it for the necessary independent political action program that could unite the membership and the general public in a fight for jobs and investment in decaying infrastructure. All research shows that this is a real path forward to create steel demand and union jobs. It’s plain to see and many studies document that America’s infrastructure is in horrible shape. Tariffs have not increased domestic demand for steel. The only way to increase domestic steel production is through a massive reinvestment program that not only rebuilds the decaying American infrastructure in the public interest but creates steelworker jobs.

Rather than casting their fate with their privately owned corporate rivals for the wealth created by the workers, unions should fight those rivals for a greater share. If they want to guarantee jobs, security, and compensation, they should struggle to eliminate the private corporations altogether. A real fighting union would be for public ownership of the steel industry.

Greg Godels  zzsblogml@gmail.com

Ed Grystar egrystar@aol.com

Unifor and CLC: get back to the table!
worker | January 27, 2018 | 7:44 pm | Canada, Communist Party Canada, Labor | Comments closed

Unifor and CLC: get back to the table!

January 23, 2017

The announcement on January 17 by the National Executive Board of UNIFOR, Canada’s largest private sector union, that it was disaffiliating from the Canadian Labour Congress, effective immediately, is a shock to millions of workers in Canada – over 3 million of whom are members of unions affiliated to the CLC, and 300,000 who are members of UNIFOR.

Many remember an earlier split in the late ‘90s, ostensibly over the same issues, which fractured the labour movement for almost a decade. During that time governments and corporations drove a vicious austerity agenda that cut jobs and wages, closed plants and factories, destroyed defined benefit pension plans, orchestrated bankruptcies under the CCAA that stole workers’ wages, pensions, and benefits – just like US Steel, Nortel Networks, and Sears are doing today. Union density was undermined, the pay gap grew wider and part-time and precarious work replaced good union jobs. Public and post-secondary education and healthcare were under sharp attack, core funding for public services and universal social programs was slashed, and the trade union movement itself came under sustained attack. Corporations raked in super-profits, half a million manufacturing jobs disappeared, and real wages, purchasing power, and living standards fell.

This was all part of the neo-liberal agenda to expand corporate control, and to smash the power, influence and capacity of organized labour to become the backbone of an organized Canada-wide resistance, and the starting point to mount an effective counter-offensive.

But the top leadership, burdened under the weight of right-wing business unionism, was unable to recognize its role and responsibilities to unite its ranks and lead a militant struggle against austerity. While workers chafed, instead of exposing the political advocates of austerity in Ottawa and the provinces, many labour leaders embraced the Liberals and NDP, and doused militant, independent labour political action as destructive to these new (and not so new) political partnerships.

At the same time, labour conventions became increasingly centralized, leaving less and less time to debate issues, and making it much harder for delegates not already in leadership – or without a nod from leadership – to run for office. Votes were whipped and slates were the order of the day in too many union meetings and conventions. The labour movement settled in for a long sleep under CLC President Ken Georgetti, and few of the affiliates complained. As union density declined, raiding became a widespread way to maintain membership and the dues income needed to maintain operations. It was the norm, not the exception.

But workers’ interests are fundamentally opposed to the interests of the Big Business parties and the corporations they speak for. Tri-partism and bi-partism are poison, aiming to block and blunt the workers’ struggles.

As economic conditions worsened, workers in some of the lowest paid industries began to demand more, asking their unions to protect them against poor contracts, wages and conditions. Pressure was building for change, for the labour movement to be stronger, more militant, and more independent of employer influence.

The response of right-wing business unionism was to tighten up the organization of the trade union movement even more.

The CAW, at that time a union with a reputation as a militant, class conscious and fighting organization with a commitment to social unionism, was also in a difficult and vulnerable situation with the loss of the Auto Pact. The Big three auto companies seized the moment to squeeze the CAW with threats of closing plants and layoffs of hundreds, even thousands of workers, unless concessions were adopted. The union looked to the Liberal Party for help to stop the closures and layoffs, while also expanding its membership drives well beyond the automotive sector. Many other workers were attracted by the high wages and good contracts for autoworkers, and by the union’s militant history, and today autoworkers account for only 25% of UNIFOR’s members. As to the Liberals, their main contribution to the union was photo-ops with union leaders, and support for the contract stripping that the Tories ordered after the 2008 economic meltdown.

In the late ‘90s the SEIU charged the CAW with raiding, after SEIU locals in Canada opted to leave SEIU and join CAW.

As the CLC’s umpire noted in his report to the CLC, there was no method within the CLC Constitution for Local unions to disaffiliate without the agreement of the parent union. The reason was that the CLC’s affiliates are the unions, not the union Locals. The conundrum facing local unions that want out of CLC affiliates (which are often international unions, located in the US) must convince their union leaderships that they should be allowed to leave to join another union. With the exception of progressive unions like UE, which jointly negotiated a fraternal split at the border, almost every other union has responded by imposing a trusteeship of the local union, as Unite-HERE in the US did to Local 75 in Toronto last month.

Article 4 of the CLC Constitution has been a burning issue in the trade union movement for more than 20 years, with no resolution in sight to date. This is at the heart of the current dispute, according to the UNIFOR letter of disaffiliation. The CLC’s decision not to include UNIFOR in a sub-committee struck to review the issue suggests that a resolution was not being seriously considered.

But questions have arisen about UNIFOR’s constitution and the legality of its National Executive Board’s decision to disaffiliate without any reference to a convention or to the membership more broadly. UNIFOR members heard about the decision in the same way that everyone else did – on the news and on the internet.

They also heard that the CLC had directed that UNIFOR members are not to be seated at provincial labour federations or Labour Councils. Many UNIFOR members are Labour Council delegates, sitting on Committees, or elected Presidents and Executive members. Labour activists are distressed and angered that the on-the-ground centres of labour and community struggles across the country are being disrupted by struggles “at the top” that appear to have little to do with the bread and butter struggles on the ground: against austerity, against Trump’s NAFTA plans, against war and military spending, and much more.

Labour Councils in Hamilton, Durham and London have already refused to ask UNIFOR delegates to leave, and that is exactly what the doctor ordered for labour unity and solidarity. The inability of the CLC and UNIFOR leaderships to resolve key issues at the top levels should not tear apart the movement at the base, in the communities, in the struggles now and just ahead.

There is no doubt that the fight for Canadian autonomy, sovereignty and democracy is directly related to the ability of the labour movement to unite against austerity and the corporate assault. It’s directly related to a labour movement in which class struggle leadership prevails and business unionism is a disappearing relic. It’s related to a trade union movement that utilizes the energy, initiative and capacity of its members to build its strength, and which cooperates instead of competing with its sister unions here at home, and globally.

The decision of UNIFOR’s National Executive Board will not help to resolve the real problems that exist in the CLC. Disaffiliation will divide and weaken the labour movement at a very dangerous time for workers, their families, and for all those who are unorganized, precarious and racialized workers, and the million unemployed and under-employed. This includes our youth, whose future is both poor and uncertain.

The CLC should be equally concerned, as it too will be weakened. Raiding will gather steam everywhere, to the detriment of the unorganized workers and the labour movement as a whole. This will include raids on UNIFOR as well as on CLC affiliates. There is no doubt the employers will take every advantage possible.

Instead of sudden divorce, UNIFOR and the CLC should go back to the table and work to resolve the problems created over many years, and which must be honestly and openly addressed now. The voices of workers in Canada must be heard on this issue: they are not on-lookers but the substance of Canada’s injured labour movement.

Statement by the Central Trade Union Commission, Communist Party of Canada