By Jason Rabinowitz, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 2010
More than 80 percent of University of California (UC) support staff employees are paid wages too low to provide the basic necessities of life in the areas where they live and work, according to preliminary findings of a study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute.
As Governor Brown and UC President Janet Napolitano meet to discuss the financial future of the UC, it’s imperative that they recognize the dire financial situation of many UC employees. The UC is the third largest employer in California, employing nearly 200,000 workers, directly creating 1 in 46 jobs in the state, and generating $46.3 billion in economic activity annually. The 14,000 administrative and essential support services workers in the UC system are 81% female and over 50% people of color, and include administrative assistants, collection representatives, childcare assistants, and 911 dispatchers.
Between 2007 and 2011 these essential support workers received no pay increases, while student tuition skyrocketed. The workers have also fallen behind due to substantial increases in costs for retirement and healthcare, parking fees, and inflation. During the same period, the state slashed funding to UC, and currently contributes $460 million less per year in funding than it did in 2007. On a per-student basis, state funding for UC has decreased by more than half since 1991.
“Our voices have been silenced for too long, and need to be heard,” said Catherine Cobb, President of Local 2010 and former employee at UC Irvine. “The answer is not more pay-cuts and tuition increases. The time has come for the state to fund the University of California.”
Elise Gould, Senior Economist with EPI explains:
The Economic Policy Institute has calculated basic family budgets for every area of the United States for over a decade now. Our methodology is so respected that the family budget data has been used and cited by groups ranging from living wage advocates to private employers to academics to policymakers. These basic family budgets measure how much it costs various representative family types to have an adequate but modest standard of living in over 600 local areas across the country. Applying the basic family budget data to the reported wages of University of California union workers indicates that 82.5 percent of University of California support employees in the clerical and related classifications would not earn enough from their wages, even if they worked full-time, to exceed the basic family budget for a family with one adult and one child in their respective metropolitan areas.
It’s unfortunate that the University is contributing to the national problem of declining middle-class wages and increased income inequality. The UC is one of the leading economic forces in California, and has a tremendous impact on the economy of our state. We need UC to be a force for good jobs in our communities and a fair economy. The Legislature and the Governor must renew California’s commitment to adequately fund higher education.
For more than 25 years, thousands of workers in northern California have committed their lives to producing high-quality Toyotas at the Bay Area’s New United Motor Manufacturing Inc (NUMMI) auto plant, and hundreds of thousands of car-buying Californians have made Toyota the #1 car company in the state. So when Toyota announced last year that it plans to close down the NUMMI plant on April 1, 2010, the company dealt an undeserved punch in the gut to California’s workers and consumers, not to mention our state’s already faltering economy.
Toyota’s plan to close down NUMMI is the latest in a string of remarkably poor management decisions from the Japanese automaker, which is still in the hot seat after the recent rash of recalls of millions of Toyota vehicles worldwide. As the company struggles to regain consumer confidence, Toyota has absolutely nothing to gain by closing the plant, and both Toyota and California have just about everything to lose.
Closing the NUMMI plant is bad for:
California workers and their families. If Toyota has its way, more than 5,000 autoworkers at the plant will be out of work, and another 1,500 Teamsters who transport the cars from the NUMMI plant to the dealerships will also be jobless. Additionally, as many as 50,000 workers at hundreds of businesses in California are completely dependant on NUMMI to stay afloat, from the suppliers that manufacture car parts to the restaurants where the NUMMI workers go for lunch and even the shoe stores where the plant workers buy their specialized work boots.
Mari Alvarez, a mother of three, has worked at NUMMI for 9 years, and her husband worked there too, before he got injured. Mari said that if the plant closes
We just don’t know what we’re going to do. It’s not just an economic disaster, it’s a human tragedy.
The economy. There’s no doubt that the closure and subsequent layoffs would be devastating to our already faltering economy. California has already lost a million jobs since the beginning of the recession, and the proposed NUMMI closure would be the largest mass layoff in California since the recession began.
Last week, State Treasurer Bill Lockyer introduced a new Blue Ribbon commission tapped to investigate just how dire the effects of the closure will be across California’s economy.
Californians are deeply concerned about how the loss of this plant might affect their economy, their state and their lives, and it is the job of this Commission to help find the answers to those questions. It is a testament to the quality of leaders on this panel that they have been more than willing to take up this challenge
The commission — which includes representatives from labor, business, consumer, environmental, religious and political communities, as well as actor Danny Glover, who is a lifelong civil rights advocate — will be completing their investigation by Wednesday, and a delegation will travel to Japan shortly thereafter to present the commission’s findings to the Toyota executives.
The environment. Even though Californians buy more Toyotas than anywhere else, Toyota would rather increase their carbon footprint by shipping hundreds of thousands of cars to California from overseas, when they could be making them right here where they sell them.
In fact, if Toyota stuck by their promise to begin manufacturing the Prius (one of the most popular cars in northern California) and other hybrid vehicles at the NUMMI plant, instead of importing them, it would not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it would more than make up for the work lost when GM went bankrupt and was forced to discontinue manufacturing the Pontiac Vive. Toyota claims GM’s pull out was the primary reason for the decision to close NUMMI. In reality, GM production at NUMMI represented only 10% of 2008 production and less than 20% over the past five years.
Carl Pope, president of the Sierra Club, wrote in a letter to Toyota President Akio Toyoda:
California’s leadership in clean vehicles will drive up demand for the very best, and Toyota can show its commitment to the consumers in this state by bringing hybrid manufacturing to NUMMI.
Taxpayers. Toyota has the taxpayers to thank for dropping millions into the “cash for clunkers” program, which benefitted Toyota far more than any other car company. Toyota also received a variety of taxpayer-funded incentives and subsidies for training programs. And if the plant does close, the taxpayers will wind up footing the bill for the shutdown costs.
NUMMI is the last remaining auto plant on the West coast, and Toyota’s only unionized auto plant. NUMMI has consistently won top ratings from J.D. Powers for its outstanding commitment to efficiency, productivity and safety. But if Toyota shutters the plant, tens of thousands of California workers will be left jobless, despite the fact that the company has never closed any of its other plants, nor have they ever laid off a single Japanese worker.
Toyota might think the NUMMI closure is a done deal, but we don’t. That’s why we’re supporting the UAW along with the AFL-CIO, Teamsters and dozens of other unions, environmentalists and community allies on a massive campaign at Toyota dealerships across the country to urge Toyota to make a U-turn and keep the NUMMI plant open.
Toyota’s plan to close the NUMMI auto plant in Fremont is an outright attack on union workers. And if they won’t employ our workers, then we won’t buy their cars. Sign the pledge today at http://bit.ly/4xYAif and vow not to buy any more Toyotas if the company shuts down the NUMMI plant.
Rebecca Greenberg is communications organizer at the California Labor Federation. Follow her on Twitter @CaliforniaLabor.
Today Americans United for Change, the progressive advocacy group that is visiting districts throughout the country on the “Bush Legacy Tour,” hammered David Dreier for being a tool to Big Oil and special interests. From their release:
With gas prices above $4, Americans United for Change, the progressive issue-advocacy group that recently launched its national Bush Legacy Bus tour, blasted Rep. David Drier today for standing in the way of lower gas prices for California families by voting against meaningful legislation to release 70 million barrels of light, sweet crude oil from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve into the open market and replace it with heavy, sour oil that is tougher to refine – a move that has historically brought down gas prices and strengthened our national security.
The SPR has been tapped or suspended before by the current President Bush, President Clinton, and the first President Bush and each time oil has been released the impact on prices has been dramatic and immediate. For example, in 1991, oil prices immediately dropped by 33 percent. The 2000 exchange drove oil prices down by 19 percent. And the release by President Bush in 2005 resulted in a 9 percent drop.
“With gas prices hovering above $4 a gallon, Rep. Dreier was given a chance today bring real relief now to California families forced to make incredible sacrifices choosing between bills, gas, and food,” said Caren Benjamin, for Americans United for Change. “But without apology or question, Congressman Dreier chose to put his loyalty to Bush and his addiction to big oil cash ahead of relief for struggling Californians.”
I don’t know if the “Free Our Oil” campaign and focusing on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is the most effective message, but clearly somebody has to show some leadership on the energy front. Contrary to popular beliefs, Democrats are NOT being pushed out of this debate. In a recent poll by The Wilderness Society, the public is split on the question of drilling or protecting arctic lands and offshore areas, and they believe 76%-19% that the best way to secure our energy future is to invest in new technologies and renewable sources rather than continue to drill. In addition, by a 63%-31% score, those polled believe that the President’s proposal to open up ANWR and the Outer Continental Shelf to drilling “is more likely to enrich oil companies than to lower gas prices for American consumers.” That’s why it’s so crucial for AUFC to note that David Dreier has taken $129,400 in contributions from oil company executives over the years.
There’s starting to be some real pushback on this “drill now” blather. The Democrats put forward this SPR bill today and most Republicans took the bait of voting against it. Jimmy Hoffa Jr. of the Teamsters, in a real game-changer of a move, came out with a very strong statement rejecting “drilling our way out” of this crisis, and demanding long-term energy solutions. Democratic Congressional candidate John Boccieri from Ohio made this amusing Web video to mock his opponent’s reliance on drilling:
And just to your left, CA-46’s Debbie Cook has put together a comprehensive 10-point plan to realize Al Gore’s vision of receiving 100% of our electricity from renewables by 2018.
There’s work to be done – by candidates, policy wonks, advocacy groups, and regular people – but together we can beat back these shortsighted solutions and expose those who want to wed our energy needs to the failures of the past.
(Cross posted from Daily Kos and various other places. This diary talks about issues important to all, including Californians. If you want to protect the coast from off-shore drilling, the change in Teamster policy is a good thing. As the Blue/Green coalition grows, it’s good for all of us, no matter where we live. It’s the future. I also included the updates from Daily Kos in this diary)
This is big.
Great news for all of us who seek a Blue/Green Alliance! The Teamsters today left the ANWR coalition, a group in favor of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Jim Hoffa has just announced that the Teamsters are pulling out of the coalition supporting drilling in ANWR and are shifting their support to efforts to build coalitions with green groups to create a sustainable energy economy around sources like solar, wind and geothermal.
“We are not going to drill our way out of the energy problems we are facing-not here and not in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,” Hoffa told labor and environmental activists at an Oakland, Calif., summit on good jobs and clean air. “We must find a long-term approach that breaks our dependence on foreign oil by investing in the development of alternate energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal power.”
Jim Hoffa announced the union’s withdrawal from the ANWR coalition, citing the need to build a green economy that fosters the development of alternative energy sources and creates good union jobs-instead of lining the pockets of big oil tycoons.
“Our economy is in shambles. Gas is climbing to $5 a gallon. The dollar has collapsed. Inflation is on the rise. Americans are seeing their paychecks shrink. Their family health care is being slashed,” Hoffa said. “Finding a long-term solution has a tremendous upside. It will be environmentally friendly and will serve as a much-needed boost to our sagging economy.”
Hoffa also thanked labor’s partners in the environmental movement, who are currently working to reduce emissions from port trucks. He urged the strengthening of the alliance, known as the Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports, to achieve a common goal: Good jobs and clean air.
“If we are to prosper as a nation, our future lies in a green economy,” he said. “But it’s up to us to help define the rules of that new green economy. A green economy means we must reduce our dependence on foreign oil. And it means creating good union jobs in America’s growing industries.”
This is the core of the Blue/Greeen alliance that will rebuild and remake a just America:
“A green economy means we must reduce our dependence on foreign oil. And it means creating good union jobs in America’s growing industries.”
The Sierra Club praised the Teamsters for this move.
“The Sierra Club and the environmental movement applaud your announcement and look forward to building a powerful movement together-a movement that helps workers, protects the environment, prevents global warming and rebuilds our economy with good, green jobs,” said Greg Haegele, The Sierra Club’s Director of Conservation. “We are proud to stand here today, as allies and friends of the Teamsters.”
Hoffa and the Teamsters are joining with Al Gore and Barack Obama in working to build a Green economy and all realize that we cannot drill our way out of this mess. We need alternative energy.
Barack Obama last week:
“For decades, Al Gore has challenged the skeptics in Washington on climate change and awakened the conscience of a nation to the urgency of this threat. I strongly agree with Vice President Gore that we cannot drill our way to energy independence, but must fast-track investments in renewable sources of energy like solar power, wind power and advanced biofuels, and those are the investments I will make as President. It’s a strategy that will create millions of new jobs that pay well and cannot be outsourced, and one that will leave our children a world that is cleaner and safer.”
We’re borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that’s got to change.
But if we grab hold of that common thread and pull it hard, all of these complex problems begin to unravel and we will find that we’re holding the answer to all of them right in our hand.
The answer is to end our reliance on carbon-based fuels.
In my search for genuinely effective answers to the climate crisis, I have held a series of “solutions summits” with engineers, scientists, and CEOs. In those discussions, one thing has become abundantly clear: when you connect the dots, it turns out that the real solutions to the climate crisis are the very same measures needed to renew our economy and escape the trap of ever-rising energy prices. Moreover, they are also the very same solutions we need to guarantee our national security without having to go to war in the Persian Gulf.
What if we could use fuels that are not expensive, don’t cause pollution and are abundantly available right here at home?
“We are not going to drill our way out of the energy problems we are facing-not here and not in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We must find a long-term approach that breaks our dependence on foreign oil by investing in the development of alternate energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal power.”
Working together with labor, environmentalists and Democratic candidates, we can change America, solve our energy crisis, rebuild a greeen economy with good union jobs, and address global warming.
Jim Hoffa at Yearly Kos in 2007.
We need to work with the Teamsters and other unions to rebuild a Green America. Thank you Mr. Hoffa and all Teamsters! Solidarity!
Update. From Change to Win in the comments. Grist has a good write up on this:
For years, the Teamsters have supported opening the Arctic Refuge and other protected areas to oil drilling; they ran ads bashing John Kerry on it in 2004. So it is a Very Big Deal that the Teamsters have just come out and rejected drilling as a solution to the energy crisis.
At an event in Oakland, Calif., Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said that drilling won’t do anything to help; he announced that the Teamsters are withdrawing from the coalition pushing for Arctic drilling; and he stressed that pushing for “alternate energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal power” will revitalize the economy and create jobs.
It looks like reality is finally starting to bite in American politics.
UPDATE I: Kate called up Teamsters spokeswoman Leigh Strope for more on the move.
“Americans are suffering in this difficult economy,” said Strope. “[President Hoffa] really realized, like a lot of people have, that there needs to be a long-term energy solution. Like he said, we can’t drill our way out of this problem … We need a comprehensive energy policy to deal with this crisis.”
“It’s important to our members,” Strope continued. “There’s an opportunity to really explore the whole issue of green jobs, and that would obviously benefit Teamsters and all Americans.”
Update II: The Republicans are doubling down on drilling. This shows how important the Teamster decision to support alternatives is. Hoffa, Gore, and Obama all said it: “we can’t drill our way out of this.”
Senate GOP hands Dems oil ultimatum
By Manu Raju
Posted: 07/23/08 07:43 PM [ET]
Senate Republicans have threatened to block nearly all other bills pending before the August recess if Democrats refuse to vote with them on expanding offshore drilling.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said bills that do not pertain to energy can wait until after the August recess, with gas prices now surpassing $4 per gallon. McConnell and top Republicans indicated Wednesday they would oppose any procedural votes to take up other legislation, which require 60 votes to succeed.
We think there is nothing more important that we can do right now than to deal with the Number One issue of the country,” McConnell said. “This is the biggest issue since terrorism right after 9/11. People are pounding on their desks, saying, Why don’t these people get together and do something about this problem?”
Pat Meagher, Progressive Democratic Candidate for the 41st Congressional District, has received endorsements from multiple Union and Democratic Clubs. A Forest Falls resident and Principle of Fontana Adult School he has gathered the support of the Mojave Desert Democratic Club, East Valley Democratic Club, Stonewall Democratic Club,
Greater Rialto Dual Endorsement, Desert Hot Springs Democratic Club and The Democratic Club of Big Bear Valley. His Union endorsements include IBEW Local 440, UAW Region 5 Western United States CAP Council, California Labor Federation’s Committee on Political Education (COPE), San Bernardino/Riverside Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, San Bernardino/Riverside Building and Trades Council, and International Union of Operating Engineers Local 12.
This father of nine, seven of whom are adopted, has also gotten the attention of Progressive Democrats of America Dr. Bill Honigman, So CA State Organizer, who was the Keynote speaker at Pat Meagher’s fundraising event held at University of Redlands. Ahjamu Makalani evoked Meagher’s name and sloganas an inspiration to a standing room only crowd at the State Democratic Convention PDA Caucus. Meagher embraces the entire PDA platform including their current campaign for Healthcare Not Warfare.
The war is real for the Meagher family. Their newly married son will be returning to Iraq this summer for a second tour, as well as a daughter whose first tour was in Afghanistan. To thunderous applause at Arlington West Santa Monica following Col. Ann Wright (Ret), Meagher declared “Don’t tell me I don’t support the troops. Those are my kids. It is time to bring our glorious and victorious troops home!”
Col. Ann Wright, 29 year Army Veteran, 13 year United States Diplomat, was so impressed after meeting with Meagher that she adjusted her schedule in order to share the podium with him when he announced his candidacy to a crowd of community leaders and peace and justice activists from the Inland Empire at the Carriage House in Redlands.
Pat Meagher is proud that his campaign is funded through grassroots supporters who believe he is the best man to represent their concerns in Washington DC.
XPosted 5/23/2008 1:14 AM PDT on MyDesert.com in Blog by BluePalmSpringsBoyz
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 440 has endorsed Pettis in his race to replace Bonnie Garcia. IBEW Local 440 has long been active in Coachella Valley politics and Progressive Democratic circles.
Chuck McDaniel, an IBEW Local 440 leader and activist, had previously endorsed Pettis for the 80th AD. McDaniel is also Vice-President of the newly formed Desert Hot Springs Democratic Club and is a member of the Riverside County Democratic Central Committee.
Garcia is termed out and cannot run for re-election.
More below the flip…
The good news for Proud Progressive Democrats is that the Coachella Valley is trending blue with last year’s wins by Steve Pougnet for Mayor of Palm Springs, by Rick Hutcheson in the Palm Springs City Council, by Karl Baker in the Desert Hot Springs City Council, by Greg Pettis in the Cathedral City City Council, by Craig Ewing in the Desert Water Agency, and No on C. Garcia barely won re-election in the last race against a little-known candidate and poorly-funded, Steve Clute, who did not have the backing of all of the Democratic clubs because of his opposition to Marriage Equality.
In addition, Democrats now out-register Republicans by more than 15,000 voters! The voter registration figures are also trending Democratic across the district from Desert Hot Springs, Palm Springs, and Cathedral City in the West Valley to Indio, Coachella, and even Rancho Mirage, La Quinta, and Palm Desert in Down Valley. Add to this the fact that Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Coachella, and Indio all went for Kerry/Edwards in 2004 makes the 80th AD ripe for the pickings of an experienced Progressive Democratic candidate with the credentials of Pettis.
Pettis has a well-funded, well-oiled candidacy and has already outraised and outspent all of his competitors combined in FundRace 2008! in the last reporting period, Pettis also outraised his presumptive Republican opponent, Gary Jeandron. In addition, Pettis already has endorsements from all of the local Democratic clubs who have endorsed, including the Pass Democratic Club, the Desert Hot Springs Democratic Club, the Desert Stonewall Democrats, Inland Stonewall Democrats, the Palm Springs Democratic Club, the San Diego Democratic Club, and the San Diego Democratic Women’s Club.
Other labor organizations already endorsing Pettis include the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Building Trades of California, California AFL-CIO, Cathedral City Professional Firefighters, San Bernardino/Riverside Counties Central Labor Council, San Diego/Imperial Counties Central Labor Council, and Teamsters Joint Council 42.
There are a bunch of things that I wanted to post about that I might as well highlight in one post, kind of like when Asia recruited members of Yes, King Crimson, and Uriah Heep to create a “supergroup”:
• BeDevine notes that yet another gender-neutral marriage bill has passed the Legislature, and once again Arnold Schwarzenegger has vowed to veto it because “the people have already spoken on that issue.” Apparently the people don’t vote for their own representatives in the state legislature. And at what point does the statute of limitations run out on referring to a ballot measure from 2000?
• Senator Loewenthal has pulled back the container fee bill that would have charged importers a $30 fee on each cargo container to go towards fighting pollution at the ports. This will go into negotiation and probably be passed in some form in 2008. Hopefully it’ll be a form that will still have some teeth.
• As mentioned in the Quickies, the CA Hospital Association has agreed to a tax in themselves… sort of. In exchange, they would receive money back to them based on how many poor people they treat. Most hospitals would actually make money on the deal. It’s also hard to see how this would do anything to fix our state’s strained emergency rooms, which presumably is where these poor people would be encouraged to go for treatment.
• Also in the Quickies is some good news on the enviroment, as new CARB chief Mary Nichols has set some pretty strong targets for emissions cuts. They’re first steps but they presage positive developments in the future.
• Finally, the Teamsters waged a successful protest at the California-Mexico border against the Bush Administration effort to allow 100 Mexican trucking companies to deliver goods anywhere in the United States. This will not only damage our environment and public safety by opening up the roads to unsafe Mexican trucks, it undermines American job security for one of the few good union industries left to our working class. The goal is to marginalize unionized truckers, pure and simple. Matt Stoller thinks this could be the next “Dubai ports deal” if the word gets out about it.
The strike has been blocked. For now, at least, Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) bus drivers will NOT be allowed to walk off the job and begin striking over their labor dispute. So why has the strike been blocked? Arnold went to court. (From OC Register)
They determined that a bus strike would cripple the county’s transit system and disrupt the lives of thousands of residents.
In addition to affecting more than 200,000 daily bus passengers, a strike would have adverse economic impacts on businesses, with a potential loss of $800,000 in sales per day.
The findings of a state-appointed ad-hoc panel were sent to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who in turn asked state lawyers to seek an injunction to prevent a strike from happening Monday.
“He sees this labor dispute as a safety issue for the county,” said aide Sabrina Demayo Lockhart, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office. “We think this next step will help.”
So what happens next? Follow me after the flip for more…
So why can’t the OCTA drivers strike? The court agreed with the finding of the ad-hoc panel appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger that too many Orange County residents would lose their mobility.
A walkout would “significantly impair the health, safety and welfare ability of a sizeable portion of Orange County residents,” according to the report.
The board was appointed last week to gather information about the dispute between bus drivers and their employer, the Orange County Transportation Authority.
An Orange County Superior Court judge agreed with the board’s findings Monday and ordered a 60-day cooling-off period that bars 1,100 bus drivers from walking off of the job and potentially leaving thousands of bus riders stranded.
And what does this mean for the workers? How are they feeling about this? And is there room for an agreement between the bus drivers and OCTA that can potentially avoid any strike altogether? Apparently, $2.8 million can make a big difference.
Currently, OCTA bus drivers earn hourly wages of between $13.72 and $21.42. Currently, OCTA and the union are about $2.8 million away from reaching an agreement.
OCTA officials say the wage increase is based on economic projections prepared by Chapman University. Union leaders argue that Chapman’s projections were off three years ago during a previous contract negotiation, and were inaccurate during recent negotiations.
Patrick D. Kelly, principal officer of union Teamster Local 952, said union members will spread their message to the public and bus riders to drum up support.
In terms of negotiations, Kelly said the union cannot ask for less than the $210 million, three-year contract it requested. The OCTA has offered the union a $207 million contract, about a 13.3 percent increase in wages and benefits.
“I don’t think there’s much room for us to make a lot of movement,” Kelly said. “[The OCTA]hasn’t moved one iota in the last couple of months. … It might get to be a hot summer.”
Now that the court has ordered more time for negotiations, let’s hope that OCTA can reach an agreement with its workers. The economic well-being of these workers is at stake. If Chapman’s economic projections really are off, then OCTA needs to bridge the $2.8 million gap and pay the workers what they need to make ends meet.
Oh yes, and this is not just about the well-being of the bus drivers. This is about the economic well-being of the entire county. If OCTA cannot reach an agreement with the drivers, and if the drivers have no option left but to strike, then there will be way too many thousands of people who would suddenly be immobilized. They wouldn’t be able to go to work, or go to school, or go to the grocery store, or really go anywhere. We can’t let that happen.
Let’s hope OCTA uses this opportunity to make a deal with the bus drivers that all sides can agree to, because no one can afford to just not get around.
Orange County bus drivers could go on strike at midnight tonight, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called for a 60-day cooling-off period and lawyers for the state are expected to seek a court injunction today that would stop an immediate walkout.
The bus drivers earlier authorized a strike and will be without a contract at midnight, with no further talks scheduled, according to Teamsters Local 952, which represents about 1,100 Orange County Transportation Authority bus drivers.
So what does this mean for the 200,000 plus people who ride OCTA buses every day? And what might happen to the drivers? Follow me after the flip for more…
So what does this mean for the workers? Another snippet of the article gives us a clue:
Meeting Friday, representatives of the bus drivers union and OCTA failed to extend the driver’s old contract, said Patrick Kelly of the Teamsters.
The contact expired last Monday, but was extended for a week when Schwarzenegger ordered a seven-day cooling off period, which expires at midnight.
Today, attorneys for the state are expected to ask an Orange County judge to prohibit a strike for 60 days more, Kelly said.
More than 200,000 people a day ride Orange County buses.
If the judge determines a walkout would not significantly disrupt public transportation services and endanger the public health, safety or welfare, and does not issue an injunction, the bus drivers are ready to walk off the job just after midnight, Kelly said.
So what happens to everyone riding the bus? Does this mean that I can’t take Route 57 from my house to Newport? Does this mean I can’t take Route 1 from Newport to Laguna? What happens to all the workers who use the bus? What happens to the disabled folks who depend on OCTA to get around?
I’m really disappointed that OCTA could not make an agreement with the Teamsters. Not only are they putting the livelihoods of these bus drivers at risk, but they are also jeopardizing the livelihoods of all the many thousands of workers who depend on OCTA to get to their jobs on time. I have a feeling that this won’t work out for anyone.
Too bad that OCTA and the County of Orange allowed this labor dispute to become a transportation nightmare.
(Wow! If only labor and environment can work together in more places more often! – promoted by atdleft)
During the Seattle WTO protests, in 1999, the phrase “Turtles & Teamsters, Together At Last” (and variations) jumped from protest sign to guiding philosophy. It symbolically described hundreds of thousands Sierra Club activists (who dressed as sea turtles) and union members who marched to demand that human and environmental concerns be included in discussions of global Free Trade regimes.
“Turtles & Teamsters” also put a name to the increasingly common alliances between environmentalists and labor unions, which were no longer willing to accept that protecting the environment and jobs were mutually exclusive conditions. That potent alliance has formed around the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and offers both hope and dangers.
In August 2006, Teamster reps at YearlyKos told me the Brotherhood “basically got kicked out of the ports when the trucking industry was deregulated and hiring owner-operators became the standard MO for the industry. The Teamsters ominously said that they were already laying to ground work to reorganize drayage drivers and ‘we’ll be back’.” (LBP 10/19/2006) The following October, Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have granted collective bargaining rights to drayage drivers, for the second year in a row. (ibid)
The March 29th edition of the Daily Breeze showed a mob of owner-operators at a Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports rally. Careful observers noted that each of the enthusiastic port truck drivers wore a green fleece with a Teamsters‘ emblem on the breast, but that not one of them was legally allowed to join the union.
It’s the irony in that picture that forshadows an explosive political conflict in the coming months and years. The CCSP has proposed that the Ports limit access to pre-approved companies and their employees, a local-level policy change which would make an end-run around Sacramento. The change would radically alter the labor relations by ending the ‘independent contracting’, provide a mechanism for enforcing vehicle efficiency upgrades and shore up TSA security initiatives. It would also inevitably (and substantially) raise the cost of moving freight, which means the world’s largest retailers and manufacturers will not be gentle.
In the short term, shippers will probably be able to keep the Ports from implementing the CCSP’s proposals, but it comes with a risk. Teamsters are famous for their militancy and port truckers have been known to stage their own independent direct actions (i.e. shutting down the I-5 with a single abandoned truck). This is the beginning of an election cycle which many expect to obliterate the Republican Party, and an energized Democratic Party is looking at every conceivable cause to grow and activate its base. Allowing tens of thousands of immigrant truck drivers to unionize will be an easy issue support for Democratic insurgents, and an easy campaign promise to deliver once in power.
Toeing the line and refusing to negotiate has been a reliable breakwater for businesses and shippers keep down costs. Logistics industry insiders, however, predict a ‘Perfect Storm’ in 2008 and truckers in Long Beach may contribute to the tsunami which threatens to wipe out the deregulated transportation industry of the last 20 years.