Saturday, August 11, 2007

Stupid Independent Union Tries Organize UPS

Posted on Wed, Aug. 08, 2007
KCK UPS Freight terminal workers vote against joining union
By RANDOLPH HEASTER
The Kansas City Star

Workers at the area UPS Freight Inc. terminal decisively rejected a labor group’s attempt to organize them.

According to a three-day election concluded Tuesday by the National Labor Relations Board, 203 employees voted against joining the Association of Parcel Workers of America, while 66 voted in favor of the group.

Dan Hubbel, assistant director of the NLRB’s regional office, said 339 hourly employees were eligible to vote.

It was a big setback for the North Carolina-based group that has tried to establish itself as an alternative to the Teamsters union. The UPS Freight terminal in Kansas City, Kan., was the first site that the parcel workers association tried to organize.

The Teamsters represent nearly 240,000 employees at UPS parcel and package operations, which is in the middle of negotiating a new national contract, although it does not represent UPS Freight workers here. UPS Freight, a less-than-truckload carrier, was known as Overnite Transportation Co. until UPS bought it in 2005.

The Teamsters represent 125 employees at UPS Freight’s Indianapolis facility, where the union and the company are also in contract talks. Other than that terminal, the company is a nonunion operation.

Van Skillman, the parcel workers association president and a UPS package driver in Greensboro, N.C., said a straw poll taken last week indicated the Kansas City, Kan., work force would vote to join the association.

“In a week’s time, things changed dramatically,” he said. “I don’t know what happened in Kansas City. I have my suspicions, but I won’t say anything more while I’ve got our people looking into it.”

The parcel workers association also has filed with the NLRB to hold union elections at UPS Freight sites in Gaffney, S.C., and Pittsburgh.

UPS Freight said its work force in Kansas City, Kan., had spoken.

“We’ve always maintained that it’s the employees’ choice as to whether they want a union,” said Ira Rosenfeld, a UPS Freight spokesman. “We should respect that, and the employees chose to remain union-free.”

The Teamsters said it is negotiating a contract with UPS Freight in Indianapolis that will be a model for other UPS terminals around the country.

“The APWA doesn’t even have records on file with Department of Labor,” said Harold McLaughlin, president of Teamsters Local 41 in Kansas City. “Freight workers at UPS Freight should get the best workplace representation that they can — and that’s with the Teamsters union.”

Safety Not Kosher at this Slaughterhouse

Food Safety Records Add to Woes of Nation’s Largest Kosher Slaughterhouse

Nathaniel Popper | Thu. Aug 09, 2007

The nation’s largest kosher slaughterhouse, already the subject of allegations about its treatment of workers and the animals it slaughters, has also been chastised by government regulators for its food safety record, according to newly released documents

The AgriProcessors slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, received 250 non-compliance records from the United States Department of Agriculture during 2006, five of them for inadequate safeguards against Mad Cow disease, and multiple others for fecal matter in the food production area. While the entire beef, poultry and egg industry had 34 recalls in 2006, AgriProcessors had two during the last eight months, both of them Class I, the highest risk level....

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

NYC: The Deliverymen’s Uprising

The Deliverymen’s Uprising
By Jennifer Gonnerman
New York Magazine

For $1.75 an hour, they put up with abusive employers, muggers, rain, snow, potholes, car accidents, six-day weeks, and lousy tips. Not anymore.

In New York’s expanding service economy, deliverymen occupy a position near the bottom—earning less than doormen, security guards, nannies, maids, tailors, taxi drivers, and trash collectors and working in far more treacherous conditions. They work long hours and cover huge territories, often in inclement weather, dodging perils like potholes, taxi doors, and tow trucks (one of which killed a deliveryman last year)—all the while hoping they don’t get robbed along the way. And they do this for pay that is often less than the minimum wage.

But that may be about to change. Since last fall, some 70 Chinese deliverymen—including Justin and his co-workers at Ollie’s—have filed lawsuits against five Manhattan restaurants. Never before have so many restaurant deliverymen joined together to battle their bosses. It’s the Year of the Chinese Deliverymen—the year they decided to revolt.

German Railway Union Threatens Open-ended Strike

Germany faces travel chaos in rail strike

By Bertrand Benoit in Berlin

Financial Times

Published: August 6 2007 18:12 | Last updated: August 6 2007 18:12

Germany’s national railway operator is steeling itself for its toughest industrial action for 15 years after members of a rebel engine drivers’ union voted overwhelmingly on Monday in favour of open-ended strike action.

Deutsche Bahn says it has rejected an ultimatum by the GDL union for the company to come up with a new pay offer by Tuesday night. The union wants a 31 per cent rise for its 13,000 members.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Chrysler Hires Poster Boy of Corporate Greed

Chrysler's Hiring of Nardelli
Could Raise UAW Concerns
By JOHN D. STOLL
Wall Street Journal
August 6, 2007 9:02 a.m.

DETROIT -- Former Home Depot Inc. Chief Robert Nardelli couldn't have come to Detroit at a more fragile time, as the Big Three domestic auto makers are locked in critical labor negotiations with a United Auto Workers union that has made criticizing executive compensation a key rallying cry.

Mr. Nardelli, who recently made headlines with a $210 million Home Depot Inc. severance package, takes the Chrysler helm just days after private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management closed its purchase of Chrysler from DaimlerChrysler AG. Mr. Nardelli has recently become the poster boy for corporate excess thanks to the severance package that drew criticism from investors, lawmakers and unions.

That image promises to not sit well with Detroit's biggest union.

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger was initially against a private-equity takeover, mostly because he believed the firms were full of people who used other people's money to "strip and flip" corporations. The union, however, surprisingly warmed up to Cerberus after being assured former Chrysler Chief Executive Tom LaSorda's so-called Recovery and Transformation Plan turnaround plan was still intact.

Now, harmony between the deep-pocketed investment firm and the 72-year-old labor union may face a challenge. Mr. Gettelfinger, in past interviews with the media, has said he supports Mr. LaSorda, whose family has deep union ties and who had been paying his own health-care tab in a show of shared sacrifice with the UAW. Mr. LaSorda, who will remain president, took over as Chrysler CEO in September 2005, and had a rocky tenure capped by Daimler AG's decision to sell Chrysler in May.

"I believe they made the right decision by keeping Tom LaSorda," Mr. Gettelfinger said in late May. "I think it's a bold move on their part to say we know very little about this industry and we have a management team in place that does."

While Mr. Gettelfinger has been an advocate of Mr. LaSorda remaining CEO, he has also been a fierce critic of excessively high executive compensation.

Most recently, the union chief took aim at Delphi Corp. Chairman Steve Miller after Delphi dished out multi-million-dollar retention packages to executives shortly after filing for bankruptcy protection in 2005. At the same time, Mr. Miller was threatening to use court protection to rip up labor contracts for hourly workers at Delphi, an auto parts maker that had been spun off from General Motors Corp. in 1999.

Even with Delphi nearly ready to emerge from bankruptcy, thanks in part to a new UAW contract, the tension created by Mr. Miller and the compensation issues still weigh on Mr. Gettelfinger. He refuses to even say the word "Delphi" in public statements, instead calling it "GM's parts operation." He refers to Delphi executives as "swine."

As colorful as the Delphi saga turned out to be, the stakes are arguably much higher as Chrysler, along with GM and Ford Motor Co., try to hammer out a new four-year contract that cedes considerable cost concessions to the auto makers. Mr. LaSorda will keep a close hand in the negotiations, but Mr. Nardelli's high-profile figure will undoubtedly loom over the talks.

In Mr. Nardelli, GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner and Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally have a new negotiating partner who has attracted scrutiny from other unions, notably the AFL-CIO. That union, which has teamed up with the UAW on the political front, made a punching bag of Mr. Nardelli during his tenure at Home Depot, generating several press releases criticizing his performance and compensation.

Mr. Nardelli's compensation as Chrysler chief executive will likely remain confidential, since the company is now private. Mr. Nardelli's pay will be tied to Chrysler's performance and based on the equity value of the auto maker, people familiar with the matter said. The new CEO will have breathing room to engineer a restructuring for the auto maker without the scrutiny of shareholders and Wall Street analysts.

The UAW already has executive compensation on its mind as it enters labor talks, and that could be a strike against Mr. Nardelli. In a book distributed to media in advance of the negotiations, the UAW noted "The CEOs of Chrysler Group, Ford and GM earned a combined total of $24.5 million in salaries, bonuses and other compensation in 2006." The union calls the payouts "substantial sums." Mr. Gettelfinger also took considerable time earlier this year to rip high executive compensation during the UAW's bargaining convention, which is a public event meant to lay the groundwork for private labor talks.

On July 23, Mr. Gettelfinger, at a press conference held at Ford headquarters, reminded media that chief executives of Japanese auto makers, which are wildly more profitable than the Big Three, typically make less money then U.S. auto chiefs.

UNITE HERE Launches Website, Survey, to Engage Countrywide Borrowers

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The labor union UNITE
HERE has launched a website, http://www.eyeoncountrywide.info, as an open resource on the sub-prime lending crisis and the nation's number one sub-prime lender, Countrywide Financial Corporation.

Sarkozy Goes on Anti-Union Offensive

Sarkozy’s reforms too tame for some
By John Thornhill in Paris
Financial Times

Published: August 2 2007 18:52 | Last updated: August 2 2007 18:52

The French parliament concluded its extraordinary summer session on Thursday night having adopted four big packages of legislation in a frantic burst of political activity.

However, in spite of such remarkable activism, Nicolas Sarkozy, the new president, is facing criticism from some supporters that his government is not reforming as boldly as promised.

Boasting a clear parliamentary majority, Mr Sarkozy has found it easy to push through legislation cutting taxes on overtime and mortgage interest payments, granting more autonomy to universities, toughening sentences for repeat offenders and mandating minimum service levels on public transport during strikes.

The president has made clear he is pushing full speed ahead with his promise to bring about a “rupture” with the failed policies of the past and revitalise the eurozone’s second biggest economy.

Wishing his ministers a good vacation following the last cabinet meeting of the summer on Wednesday, he told them to keep their mobile phones switched on and to prepare for even more intense work on their return in September.

But some deputies from Mr Sarkozy’s centre-right UMP party, who have already been grumbling about how many Socialist ministers have been included in his government, are now complaining he has not been aggressive enough in tackling France’s sprawling civil service and getting a grip on public finances.

Even though they faced little parliamentary opposition, ministers shied away from some of their more controversial proposals that could have provoked confrontation with the unions.

On Tuesday Fran├žois Fillon, the prime minister, outlined measures to cut civil service numbers next year by not replacing 22,700 retiring staff and to trim the projected budget deficit from 2.4 per cent in 2007 to 2.3 per cent next year. However, Mr Fillon’s reforms fell well short of Mr Sarkozy’s campaign promises not to replace half those retiring from the civil service and to revolutionise the public finances.

Mr Fillon argued that reforms would acquire a momentum of their own, making it easier to move faster later to meet Mr Sarkozy’s promises over the course of his five-year term. The government’s tax cuts would also stimulate faster economic growth, which would enable the deficit to be cut more aggressively later.

Christine Lagarde, the finance minister, estimated that the €13.8bn (£9.3bn, $18.9bn) tax cuts approved by parliament this week could add at least 0.3 of a percentage point to economic growth in 2008. With the unemployment rate having fallen to 8 per cent, its lowest level in 25 years, the French economy would enter a virtuous cycle of higher growth, falling unemployment and shrinking deficits, ministers hope.

But in a biting editorial, the left-leaning Le Monde newspaper criticised Mr Sarkozy for not going further in his first three months in office. It said that Mr Fillon, who has seemed almost invisible at times in the Sarkozy administration, had finally found a role: announcing the government’s retreats on its most controversial measures.

“These evolutions show that the ‘hyper-president’ is not Superman: like his predecessors he must pull back on his campaign promises,” the newspaper said. “The man of action, elected on the slogan ‘I do what I say’ is already confronted with the limits of his power, even though the first months of a new mandate are the most favourable for passing important reforms.”