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Schoolbook

Legal Standoff Over Employee Protections at Heart of Strike

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

As school bus drivers and escorts prepare to strike, we look at what drove the two sides apart. The union claims the city is reneging on a promise to include employee protections in future contracts that guarantee wages and seniority rights. But the city claims a 2011 court ruling nullified those protections.

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Schoolbook

City Readies for Possible School Bus Strike

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg is warning students and parents to prepare for a possible school bus strike as soon as January 2nd.

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Transportation Nation

Deal Reached in Los Angeles Port Strike

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Port workers protest outside of the APM terminal on December 4th, 2012 at the Port of Los Angeles. The clerical workers claim terminal operators are outsourcing their well-paid jobs – a claim that shippers deny. (Photo by Mae Ryan/KPCC)

(Wendy Lee - Los Angeles, KPCC) The eight-day strike that has crippled the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is over.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced Tuesday night "we've got a deal and people are going back to work," he said. He added that the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will open again Wednesday.

The agreement will now go to the rank and file for their approval. One ILWU representative told reporters he's confident it will be approved.

Federal mediators were brought in Tuesday to negotiate a deal between International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63 Office Clerical Unit clerical workers and the Harbor Employers Association.

The 450 workers had been on strike since November 27. They have been picketing in front of the entrances to several terminals, prompting closures because thousands of longshoremen refuse to cross the picket lines.

Read the whole story at Southern California Public Radio.

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Schoolbook

Teachers Volunteer in Hard-Hit Areas

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Teachers used Election Day, technically set aside for professional development, to offer help to people struggling in parts of the city devastated by Sandy.

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Transportation Nation

NJ Gov Christie: Workers Shouldn't Ride Free on NJ Transit

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (Governor's Office/Tim Larsen)

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was asked Tuesday about his support of a plan to eliminate the free ride benefit for NJ Transit employees. Here's his response.

"All these different kinds of perks that are given to employees just aren't justifiable to the general public. You know we had to raise fares on NJ Transit. We had to raise fares because their fare box had been ignored by the previous administration for their entire time here. YOu know? And artificially used federal stimulus money to keep fares stable. When we came in, NJ Transit was in really bad shape.  So what did we do? We made the hard choice, we bit the bullet, we raised fares. I don't think it's justifiable for me to ask a working man or woman in New Jersey to pay these higher fares and then have employees of NJ Transit get it for free. So there's really nothing more complicated behind it than that."

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World Weekly with Gideon Rachman

Is the worst over in the eurozone?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Is the worst over in the eurozone?

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Schoolbook

Chancellor Proposes Plan to Remove Unassigned and Unsatisfactory Teachers

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott proposed on Thursday to offer buyouts to teachers in the "absent teacher reserve pool'' and to get rid of those teachers who receive unsatisfactory ratings two years in a row.

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World Weekly with Gideon Rachman

Greece in political limbo

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Greece in political limbo

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Schoolbook

Two Chancellors, Two Different Public Views on Teacher Ratings

Friday, February 24, 2012

Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott has expressed reluctance about releasing thousands of individual teacher ratings to the public, striking a different tone if not a different outcome from that of his predecessor, Joel I. Klein, who paved the way for their release.

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World Weekly with Gideon Rachman

Putin faces a a growing Russian protest movement, Xi Jinping visits Washington, and emissions trading causes friction at the EU-China summit

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Putin faces a a growing Russian protest movement, Xi Jingping visits Washington, and emissions trading causes friction at the EU-China summit

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Transportation Nation

MTA, Unions May Be Talking for A While

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Subways and buses are still running in New York City - despite the lack of a contract between about 34-thousand New York City Transport Workers Union Local 100 members and their employer, the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

Neither side offered an update, as talks continued Tuesday to reach an agreement.  The union contract expired Sunday.

But sources close to the negotiations say the MTA is pushing for a 5-year collective bargaining agreement, while the union wants a shorter term. Until the early 1980’s the union and the MTA usually made 2 year agreements.  Then the contracts got longer.  The Union opposes longer contracts that might cut its members out of any increases.

Other sticking points include heath care and wage increases.  The union wants raises to match the increasing cost of living, while the MTA wants to keep payroll costs down, as part of statewide budget cuts.

Healthcare is another point of contention.  The MTA wants union members to pay more for their healthcare, to counter spiraling health expenses.  The union says the increases add up to between $4,500 and $5,000-dollars per year out of pocket for workers.  That translates to lost earnings for middle class workers, the union said.

The negotiations could drag on; the MTA laid off about 1,000 workers in 2010, and the workforce is pretty spare.  MTA is not expected to lay off more workers this year.  At some point, both sides could declare an impasse, and arbitration would have to take place.

The last transit workers strike was in December, 2005.  It lasted three days and stranded millions of people, stuck without subway and bus service.

 

 

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Transportation Nation

Lhota: Don't Hate on the MTA

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Joseph Lhota, on his second official day as chair and CEO of the MTA (photo by Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

When Jay Walder took office in 2009, he made no bones about his priorities: installing countdown clocks, Oyster cards, and bettering bus service. But the new CEO, Joseph Lhota, confirmed Monday by the New York Senate, seems to have a less lofty goal: getting the public not to hate on the nation’s largest transit agency.

Yes, he wants to improve efficiencies; yes he wants more and better communication with customers; yes, he’ll strenuously defend the expenditure of taxpayer funds on the transit agency. “There’s not a transit agency in the country that burdens their riders with solely paying for the system,” Lhota says, echoing remarks he made at yesterday’s hearing.

But at the end of the day, Lhota says, “I’m finding a lot of people don’t have a whole lot of respect for the MTA."

He sat down Tuesday with WNYC’s Jim O’Grady to talk about the MTA’s image problem, why there won’t be more bus service anytime soon, and why he’s encouraged by a move by the Transport Workers Union to extend the contract deadline beyond Sunday night.

[TWU President] “John Samuelsen and I have tried to do everything to create a relationship with each other.  We’re open and honest with each other,” Lhota said.

A transcript of the interview follows.

O’Grady: Under your predecessor, Jay Walder, a set of his main accomplishments were innovations like the countdown clock and real time information for riders. What innovations do you have in mind?

Lhota: I think you’re going to see a continuation of more information, more communications with all of our customers, our riders.  The ability to tell them how soon a train is coming or how soon a bus is coming is a very important thing. I’m going to spend an enormous amount of time on increasing the efficiency of the MTA and also changing what most people think of the MTA.

I’m finding a lot of people don’t have a whole lot of respect for the MTA. It's an organization that allows eight and a half million people to travel to and from work every day and to travel home every day and to school, to dates on Saturday night. I want people to understand how important the MTA is to their lives. At the end of the day I’d like them to feel good -- or feel better -- about the MTA.

O’Grady: Do you have any ideas in the technology realm?

Lhota: In the technology world there are an enormous amount of innovations.  We started a contest for apps, so we can provide data to people who develop apps for iPhones and smartphones. The best thing to do for technology is not for a government agency determine what to do, but to harness the power of young people who seem to have a much better understanding, a much better grasp of technology.

O’Grady: What ideas do you have for funding the MTA?

Lhota: Some of the senators yesterday said they wanted to find a way to end any taxpayer funding for the MTA. And I reminded them in 1968 when the legislature back then with then Governor Rockefeller --they created the MTA with the intent that the burden of the transit system would not be solely on the rider, that it would be more broad-based, that there would be tax revenues.  The concept of totally eliminating tax funding for the MTA would be inconsistent with how it was created. There’s not a transit agency in the country that burdens their riders with solely paying for the system.

O’Grady: Where’s that money going to come from?

Lhota: I don’t know where the money is going to come from but I’ll work with the state legislature and I’ll work with leaders across the state. The question of revenues right now not isolated to the MTA -- all government agencies are under pressure. The current condition of our economy is really providing the lack of revenues.

I’ll work with Albany, with City Hall and the federal government, on new and better fund sources.

O’Grady: Jay Walder said in Hong Kong that New York’s transit system was underfunded and under developed.

Lhota: I heard Jay’s comments. They were taken out of context. Jay was comparing the brand new system in Hong Kong to a hundred plus year-old system here in New York. It’s really tough to compare something that is brand new with something that has being operated for over 100 years. The comparison is not apt.

O’Grady: There was a close vote on [the MTA] board about restoring bus service. People are always clamoring for connecting underserved areas like, say, Red Hook to Williamsburg as one example.  Would you consider restoring or adding bus service anywhere in New York?

Lhota : When we get the finances under control. Our budget is currently very fragile [and] we have a lot of risky assumptions in our budget. We have to constantly evaluate where should we have our routes, where should we change service, where should we increase it, where should we decrease it. We need to do that based on the demographics of what’s going on, but until we get our financial house in order we will not be seeing restorations.

O’Grady: Getting your financial house in order -- where does the consolidation play into that? Are there savings to be had from consolidation?

Lhota: There are some savings to be had -- and dealing with what people unfortunately pejoratively call the bloat -- with the MTA.  Where do we have too many lawyers, where do we have too many accountants,  where do we have too many paper pushers? That will provide some help but not substantially all, we need to find ways to do what we do with the resources we have.

O’Grady: Just give me your general impression of how its going with the Transport Workers Union.

Lhota:  Negotiations are ongoing, they’ve been constructive, they’ve been very helpful. John Samuelsen and I have tried to do everything to create a relationship with each other. We’re open and honest with each other. We tell him things that we like.  I tell him things I don’t like and there are no repercussions from it. The negotiations are ongoing but will remain behind closed doors.

O’Grady: Are you going to hit the deadline?

Lhota: We’re going to do everything we can to hit the deadline. The executive committee of the TWU has already extended the deadline by saying if they don’t have a contract by that date they’re willing to extend it out. That was a very encouraging sign by the leaders of the TWU, so the pressure we normally have on us is not there. That being said, we’re going to do everything we can to have it resolved by midnight next Sunday night.

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The Takeaway

NBA Season in Jeopardy as Players Reject Offer

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The upcoming NBA season is in jeopardy after players rejected the league's latest offer for a new labor deal on Monday. "After two years of making a genuine and concerted effort to try to close a collective bargaining effort with the league and our teams, we've come to the conclusion today that that process has not worked for us," NBA Players Association president Derek Fisher said. The players have now begun the process of disbanding the union, and filing an anti-trust lawsuit against the NBA owners.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Pennsylvania Pols Battle Over How To Fund Transportation, Taxi Group Joins AFL-CIO, Planned Bridge Between Detroit and Canada Tabled -- For N

Friday, October 21, 2011

Top stories on TN:

Power, politics, and a Brooklyn bike lane. (Link)

Joseph Lhota was named to run New York's MTA. (Link)

NYC okays wheelchair-accessible taxi. (Link)

New Yorkers support the incipient bike share program, 72 to 23. (Link)

Ambassador Bridge. Image: (CC) by Flickr user mcclouds

More on Joe Lhota's appointment to the NY MTA in the New York Times, the New York Daily News, the Staten Island Advance, and Crain's New York.

A coalition of environmental groups is suing three rail operators in California to force them to lower diesel soot. (Los Angeles Times)

A Pennsylvania state senator will introduce legislation to pump another $2.5 billion a year into that state's transportation system and is challenging the governor come up with his own plan. (AP via Penn Live)

Plans to build a second bridge between Detroit and Canada have failed in the Michigan Senate. (Detroit Free Press)

California adopts nation's strictest cap and trade standards, and is working on lowering the state's tailpipe emissions standards. (KQED)

The Metrorail link to Dulles Airport will probably be $150 million over budget. The overall price tag: $2.8 billion. (Washington Post)

A NYC taxi drivers association became the first non-traditional labor organization to join the AFL-CIO since the early 1960s. (Crain's New York)

Londoners fear the impact the Olympics might have on that city's transit system. And no pressure, London: "The success or failure of the games will hang in part on whether the system can keep up with the increase in demand." (AP via Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

NYC may shutter a bus franchise that makes women ride in back. (Reuters)

DC's Capital Bikeshare is raising prices to help pay for its expansion. (AP via WaPo)

One thousand shiny new sidewalk benches represent the latest effort by the NYC DOT to "elevate our streetscape." (Streetsblog, DNA Info)

Teen drivers: OY. Wait, make that OMG. (NPR)

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The Takeaway

The Two-Tier Wage System: Fairness vs. Employment

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Four years ago, the United Auto Workers Union allowed the three Detroit auto makers to put in place a two-tier system for paying employees, which allowed them to continue to functioning and stay in business as they struggled to stay afloat. New hires were given a salary around $14 an hour, while their tier-one counterparts were making almost double that. The system has helped increase employment in Detroit and kept the auto giants from tanking, but many people say it's unfair.

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Features

Central Park Boathouse Workers On Strike

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On Tuesday at noon, approximately 60 hospitality workers at the Central Park Boathouse Restaurant walked out or failed to come in for their shifts, protesting alleged abuses by restaurant owner Dean Poll. The workers also said they would be on strike on Wednesday night.

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The Takeaway

Unions Representing 45,000 Verizon Workers Declare Strike

Monday, August 08, 2011

Two unions that represent workers for Verizon announced an immediate strike on Sunday, demanding better treatment after a lack of progress in negotiating contracts. The Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the unions representing Verizon, last went on strike in 2000. Verizon union membership has shrunk by nearly in half since then, and is much weaker than before. Can union members still exert their influence in a strike?

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The Takeaway

This Week's Agenda: U.S. Credit Rating, Obama Bus Tour, Verizon Strike

Monday, August 08, 2011

Credit ratings agency Standard and Poor's downgraded the U.S.'s credit rating for the first time in history on Friday, causing jaws to drop across the country, and raising the blood-pressures of leaders worldwide as many held emergency meetings to fend off any backlash this news might create. President Obama will be preparing this week for his upcoming bus tour to reconnect with voters in the Midwest. Meanwhile, News Corp. will release their fourth quarter results on Wednesday, the PGA Championship kicks off on Thursday, and Dennis Rodman will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday.

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Features

Teamsters Art Handlers Picket Sotheby's Following Lockout

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Forty three art handlers employed by Sotheby's picketed the auction house on Tuesday alongside other members of Teamsters Local 814. The handlers were locked out on Friday afternoon, according to the union, after contract re-negotiations ground to a halt. In the interim, Sotheby's has hired temporary art handlers.

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WNYC News

World Trade Center Workers Walk Off Job for Second Day

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Laborers at the World Trade Center walked off the site Tuesday for the second day amid contract negotiations. Nearly 200 cement workers, whose contracts expired on July 1, were joined Tuesday by carpenters at the World Trade Center site and other cement workers from around the city.

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