Sunday, March 26, 2006

Unite Union wins historic new deal for Starbucks, KFC and Pizza Hut workers

Monday 27 March

Restaurant Brands Unite members In Auckland should be proud of themselves. They have campaigned for five months and finally won a union contract.

Unite has successfully negotiated wage increases and other improvements. The new Agreement is effective from today. The main points we won for you are:

A minimum of 7.9% on wage rates for KFC and Pizza Hut store workers. 75 cents an hour on Starbuck rates. Another increase next March.

Youth rates will be phrased out. As a first step all under 18 year olds wages will increase to 90% of the adult rate.

Supervisors in charge will receive another 50 cents per hour as will team trainers as well as their 7.9%.

Supervisors under 18 years will get the full adult supervisors rate.

Tea breaks will move from 10 minutes to 15 minutes.

When additional hours become available in stores existing workers will be offered these hours before new staff are employed. It will possible for existing workers to build their regular hours up to 39.5 hours a week. Reduction of store hours will be fairly applied.

(To find out exactly what your new pay rate is, go here:

On top of this deal all Restaurant Brand workers who join Unite will get a lump sum equal to 1% of their quarterly earnings every three months on top of the new deal. This reimburses your Unite union fees so means that effectively joining Unite is free. Workers who don’t join Unite don’t get this money.

Unite has proved that it gets things for you. Unite has agreed to pass the union benefits on to everyone. But we do want you to do the right thing and join Unite today. The rest of Unite members have helped financed the successful campaign to win your new increases. Now we need all Restaurant Brand workers to join Unite so we can finance a campaign to help win a deal for McDonalds and Burger King.

Thank you to all the Restaurant Brands crew who made this happen. Now we need all of you to join and help others win too.

Warmest regards,

Matt McCarten

National Director

Unite Union – Restaurant Brands Division

P.S. Don’t forget – join Unite today. All employees who join before 28 April have their union fees reimbursed by Restaurant Brands every 3 months.

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Northwest Chemical Transport Drivers on Strike

help picket, any time from 4am to 5pm, dress warmly
2001 Thorne Road, Tacoma Tideflats

This is a basic human rights struggle for a voice at work. Workers unanimously struck after management fired and retaliated against union activists following an overwhelming vote to unionize with Teamsters 117. The workers are organizing to achieve a fair contract that is a “win-win” for both sides. In addition to picketing, contact Pioneer Americas Operations Division at: 1-713-570-3254 to voice our concerns about potential unsafe hauling of their hazardous chemicals through our communities. Directions: Port of Tacoma Rd exit, left on Lincoln, first right onto Thorne Road, NWCT is across from ABF truck (green) terminal


* Northwest Chemical Transport (NWCT) is a tanker truck operation, based in Tacoma, Washington hauling hazardous chemicals such as Sodium Hypochlorite and Chlorine Gas to customers throughout the Northwest. These chemicals are manufactured by Pioneer Americas, also based in Tacoma, who contracts with NWCT for delivery of their product to their customers that include municipal and county water districts, wastewater treatment plants, pulp and paper mills and other industrials. The law requires that drivers who haul these hazardous chemicals and gasses undergo rigorous training and have special licenses. These chemicals cannot be delivered safely by just any licensed driver.
* In September of 2005, the nine drivers of NWCT voted overwhelmingly to become members of Teamsters Local Union No. 117. Their employer immediately retaliated by harassing and firing workers for their union activity. The workers and Teamsters have over twenty charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board alleging violations of labor law, and are expecting the Board to issue a complaint very shortly. Five days of bargaining with the employer have achieved little or no progress. At some of these sessions, the employer expressed disdain for the workers and declared futile their attempts to gain a voice at work through a union of their own choosing.
* When NWCT mangers were informed that the workers had authorized a strike, managers flew to Texas to receive abbreviated training in the transport of hazardous chemicals. Managers have also informed the workers that they are preparing to fly scab drivers in from other states to drive their routes. Drivers who are unfamiliar with local roads and weather conditions would be hauling extremely hazardous chemicals through our communities.

Further Info: Contact Brenda Wiest at Teamsters Local Union No. 117 at: 1-888-872-3489, ext. 1256

Thursday, March 23, 2006

North Carolina Migrant Farmworkers Win Landmark Victory with FLOC

(Wake County, NC, March 16) -- More than 15,000 migrant farmworkers in North Carolina won a landmark victory with the help of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), providing a major step toward achieving fairness, equitable treatment and dignity in the employment process for guest workers. The settlement the farmworkers received as a result of 17 months of litigation ensures that workers coming from Mexico will no longer be forced to endure illegal wage deductions or pay exorbitant transportation costs to work in the fields of North Carolina.

North Carolina Migrant Farmworkers Win Landmark Victory with FLOC

Court settlement touted as breakthrough for agricultural guest workers

(Wake County, NC, March 16) -- More than 15,000 migrant farmworkers in North Carolina won a landmark victory with the help of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), providing a major step toward achieving fairness, equitable treatment and dignity in the employment process for guest workers. The settlement the farmworkers received as a result of 17 months of litigation ensures that workers coming from Mexico will no longer be forced to endure illegal wage deductions or pay exorbitant transportation costs to work in the fields of North Carolina.

FLOC, which received a national charter from the AFL-CIO last month, represents 10,000 farmworkers in the Midwest and North Carolina.

“This is a breakthrough for farmworkers that will allow even more farmworkers to win a voice on the job,” said FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez. “Through non-violent campaigning we will reach out to others and make a difference for many more farmworkers and their families."

On March 10 the Wake County Superior Court in Wake County, North Carolina issued a settlement in a class action suit spearheaded by FLOC against the North Carolina Grower’s Association (NCGA) and all of its approximately 1,000 current and former grower members. The suit sought to force growers, under both the federal minimum wage law and the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act, to pay for all visa and transportation costs for temporary workers under the H-2A guestworker program. The settlement issued Friday provides a settlement fund of $1.475 million to compensate temporary agricultural workers for the illegal wage deductions they suffered under state and federal law. It also ensures that growers live up to their obligations by paying recruiting, visa, border crossing and transportation fees in Mexico or the US, which will save farmworkers an estimated $4 million over the next two years.

“Farmworkers in North Carolina will finally receive what they so greatly deserve: a fair and just process for getting work,” said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. “This is an extraordinary win for not only farmworkers but for everyone concerned about justice and fairness.”

North Carolina farmworkers won a union in 2004 when, after a five-year boycott of Mt. Olive Pickle, they signed a collective bargaining agreement with the NCGA and Mt. Olive Pickle allowing farmworkers in a guestworker program to have a union for the first time. The innovative partnership between FLOC and the NCGA was lauded as a positive development for growers and farmworkers. The innovative partnership between FLOC and the NCGA provides a steady workforce for growers and collective bargaining rights for the workers they hire.

The recent settlement requires all growers in the state to abide by its provisions concerning the visa and transportation costs for guestworkers, regardless of whether their workers are covered by the NCGA collective bargaining agreement with FLOC. Because growers will no longer be able to shirk their responsibility to temporary employees by leaving the NCGA and thereby negating the union contract with FLOC, the settlement is expected to strengthen farmworkers’ ability to form unions.

FLOC is a major force on behalf of migrant farmworkers in the Midwest and in North Carolina. Taking on large corporations like Campbell Soup and Mt. Olive Pickle, FLOC has successfully won contracts for farmworkers that have led to improved working conditions, increased wages and benefits -- and better prices for small farmers.

Monday, March 20, 2006

May Day 2006 Organizing Now!

Planning committees are forming and meeting

@ YES YES Gallery and Art Space
(320 4th Ave East, Downtown Olympia)
Friday March 24th at 5pm

Take part in creating a day of solidarity with working people around the world.

For more information call (360) 790-7980 or email

Postal Service Consolidation Plans Will Benefit Big Mailers At Expense of Citizens

Olympia Local American Postal Workers Union

Informational Picket to Protest Reduction of Mail Service
Wednesday, 3/22/06 11:00 am to 1:00 pm

For Immediate Release 3/20/6
Contact Clint Burelson, President 360-970-2965

Statement by Clint Burelson, President

The United States Postal Service is reducing service to many communities by consolidating mail canceling and sorting operations into just a few large hubs. The proposal to discontinue canceling mail in Olympia, and to move many mail operations to Tacoma on April 3rd, is part of a larger national restructuring where as many as 250 mail processing facilities may be closed and consolidated. These consolidation plans will benefit the big mailers at the expense of citizens, non-profit organizations, small businesses, and businesses of any size that require fast mail service to and from their customers.

Large advertising based mailers such as AOL Time Warner (People magazine, etc.) plan to benefit from the consolidations by obtaining huge discounts for taking more work away from the USPS. At the same time, the big mailers want the average citizen and small mailers to receive less service or pay more for the same service.

It is a common understanding that the Postal Service provides first class mail service at the same rates to citizens wherever they live and however far their mail has to travel. The relatively low cost of mailing a letter to someone in the same town helps to balance the more expensive cost of mailing a letter to the other side of the country. This type of system makes it affordable for everyone and insures that everyone can correspond equally throughout the United States via the Postal Service.

However, out of public view, large mailers have lobbied and have been successful in securing discounts for their advertising based mailings through “worksharing,” which is what the USPS and large mailers call the process by which mailers perform the functions such as applying barcodes, sorting, and trucking that would otherwise be performed by the Postal Service. Through “worksharing,” the large mailers pay less than the regular citizen for using the mail. The “worksharing” discounts have been so large, in excess of the savings to the USPS, that it has caused the Postal Service to have continuous revenue problems and for rates for the small mailers and citizens to rise unnecessarily in order to pay for the discounts to the big mailers.

The large mailers are pushing to pay even less of their fair share of the costs of universal postal service. In documents submitted to the President’s Commission on the Postal Service, the large mailers indicate that regular citizens should have to pay more or receive reduced service because they are not as efficient as the large mailers in their mailings.

In their submission to the President’s Commission, AOL Time Warner stated,

“Rates should be deaveraged and unbundled to reflect actual USPS costs of providing service.”

AOL Time Warner and other large mailers argue that local mailings should not have to subsidize the more distant mailings or that the “efficient” high volume mailings should not have to subsidize the small “inefficient” mailings of small organizations or the general public.

With the Postal Service consolidation plans, which began as the large mailer plans, the large mailers are hoping to capture more postal work and discounts by eliminating and/or consolidating as many as 250 mail processing facilities across the country. So, instead of processing the local originating mail locally, mail will be trucked miles away to be processed before returning to the same town for delivery. Not only is this more costly in terms of fuel and work time, it also results in delays in first class mail service. This design is inherently inefficient and benefits only large advertising based corporations able to take advantage of the discounts.

In general, the large mailers want as much of the Postal Service work turned over to the private sector as possible. In theory, the discounts they get simply reflect the work they have done to sort the mail. But the mail from the big mailers still needs to be processed, sorted, and delivered with the rest of the mail. The discounts awarded are far deeper than the costs the publishers have “saved” the Postal Service. In reality, they amount to a subsidy for big mailers – a subsidy paid for by the average stamp buyer.

The excessive discounts for the large mailers have reduced the Postal Service role and dramatically increased the private sector role in the mailing industry. The CEO of RR Donnelley Logistics, a large mailing company, in testimony to the President’s Commission on the Postal Service, stated,

“You have already heard that the mailing industry is a $900 billion industry employing 9 million US citizens. If we then think about the role the USPS plays in supporting the mailing public, these figures imply that the USPS makes up less than 10% of the mailing industry. That 10% share includes both upstream processing and transportation functions, which can be outsourced, and the Postal Service's unrivaled delivery capability...which cannot.”

Corporate speakers laud a reduction of the Postal Service budget as a savings to the public, but in reality it is a transfer of work and income to the corporations. The corporations generally have this work performed by workers who are paid far less than postal workers, so the process destroys good jobs and replaces them with low wage ones.

The big mailers hope to secure this arrangement by the closing and consolidation of mail processing facilities, which will make it difficult to return mail processing functions to the Post Office. The Postal Service is also closing small post offices. In fact, over 200 small post offices have been closed in the last 2 years.

Large advertising based mailers will benefit from the Postal Service plans. For the average citizen however, the Postal Service consolidation plans mean a reduction in mail service, higher costs for the reduced service, and a loss of union covered living wage job opportunities. The loss of living wage jobs will hurt our communities in turn.

The reduction in mail service and higher cost for using the Post Office will also mean a reduction in equality and will harm small business owners and non-profit organizations. Many small non-profit organization and small businesses will find it increasingly difficult to use the mail for their communication needs if the service is slow and expensive. In the magazine business, the big mailers like Time Warner will be better able to discourage competition if the smaller mailers have to pay more for their mailings.

Perhaps most importantly, the plans to dismantle the Post Office will mean a reduction in democracy. Higher costs for small mailings will reduce the ability of citizens to communicate through the mail. Corporate media, no matter how many channels, is still corporate media. A real democracy needs to provide support for the voice of the regular citizen. The Postal Service is one place that historically has provided that support.

The large mailer response to the loss of the small mailings is that people can always use the internet. AOL Time Warner (an internet provider), not surprisingly, has been especially vocal on this argument.

If that’s the case, then why don’t they take their own advice? Because catalogs and magazines are easier to browse and read in print form, and because products can’t be sent through the internet. Small businesses, non-profit organizations, and regular citizens deserve services and rates equal to those that big business can get, at least from our public institutions.

Moreover, not everyone can afford a computer, internet service, and the time it takes to keep it working properly. The cost of internet access prevents many people from accessing information and participating in our democracy. The Postal Service rate structure was historically designed to encourage the sharing of information at affordable rates to nurture a democratic culture. The Postal Service is too important to our country to have it be taken over, as have mostly all other media, by “market” principles, which invariably leads to corporate control.

USPS Consolidation Plans Not Receiving Adequate Media Coverage Because Corporate Owned Media Benefit by USPS Plans
The story of how large corporations are benefiting and the average citizen losing in the Postal Service consolidation plans are not being adequately covered by the corporate media because many of the large mailers who will benefit from the consolidation plans are also the large media corporations that provide most of the news to the country. AOL Time Warner, which owns CNN and many other media sources of information, argues for the “de-averaging” of postal costs and supports the consolidations plans. Newsweek, Reader’s Digest, and other large media mailers also support consolidation and cannot be expected to tell the story from the general public’s viewpoint.

Use Your Voice
The Postal Rate Commission is holding a pre-hearing on March 24th in a case that will determine if the Postal Service plans for a reduction violates the Postal Reorganization Act, which requires that the Postal Service provide prompt service to the public.

Individuals can submit their views on the matter in letters to the Commission (901 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20268), through the use of the “Contact Us” form on the Commission web site and by calling the Commission at 202-789-6800 for by faxing to 202-789-6866. The docket number is N2006-1 and all the documents can be viewed and/or downloaded at the Postal Rate Commission web site at

Informational Picket
The Olympia Local of the American Postal Workers Union will be holding an informational picket on Wednesday, March 22, 2006 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Olympia Downtown Post Office located at 900 Jefferson Street in Olympia, Washington. The informational picket is to protest the Postal Service plans to close and consolidate mail processing facilities across the country and reduce mail service as a result. The community is invited to join us in our efforts. Please note that the date is a change from the original date reported. The date was changed so that union members could pay their respects to Art Anderson, a union brother and good friend whose funeral is on Tuesday.

Concerned citizens and organizations should also contact their government representatives to advocate on their behalf. If enough people are vocal, the consolidation plans and reduction in service can be stopped and the Postal Service returned to its role as a public service.

More Information Online
More information on the consolidations happening across the country can be found at, and at Specific information to the Olympia consolidation can be found at and at respectively. Big mailer comments on deaveraging, worksharing, consolidation and other postal issues can be viewed at

For more information contact: Clint Burelson - or 360-970-2965

Friday, March 17, 2006

Support Fast Food Workers in New Zealand

The campaign announcement reads: "They said it couldn't be done. They said you can't
organize young, minimum wage workers at places like Starbucks, Pizza Hut, and McDonald's. But the plucky New Zealand union known as "Unite" wasn't listening, and stunned the world last year by launching the first-ever strike at Starbucks.

"Now they've taken on McDonald's, and they are serious about challenging one of the most ruthlessly anti-union corporations on the planet. They're signing up workers, taking the company to court, and launching a global campaign to flood McDonald's in New Zealand with thousands of email protest messages.

"Your support for this effort is essential. If we can compell McDonald's in tiny New Zealand to cave in and finally respect both the law and the basic human rights of its employees, we can begin to challenge the company in other countries as well.

"Please click here now:

Then, pass on this email message to your fellow union members and to your friends
and family. Get everyone involved!"

Friday, March 10, 2006

Starbucks Settles Labor Complaint

Two articles in the Seattle Times on the recent IWW victory over Starbucks
in NYC.
more info can be found at


Starbucks Settles Labor Complaint
The Associated Press
Union vows to step up organizing efforts at Starbucks
Business & Technology: Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Associated Press

A union that sought to represent Starbucks Corp. baristas at three Manhattan
coffeehouses says it will ramp up its organizing efforts now that the
company has settled an unfair labor practice complaint.

A branch of the Industrial Workers of the World that calls itself IWW
Starbucks Workers Union characterized Tuesday's settlement as a victory for
union organizing. Among other things, it requires Starbucks to post notices
at the three stores named in the complaint stating that employees have the
right to join a union.

"This settlement creates the organizing space we need to continue the
already positive membership growth we have in the Starbucks union," Daniel
Gross, a Starbucks barista and IWW organizer, said Wednesday in a phone
interview from New York City.

Starbucks admitted no wrongdoing in its settlement with the National Labor
Relations Board, but agreed to offer two workers their jobs back and to give
three employees back pay totaling less than $2,000.

The union argued that Starbucks violated federal law by creating a national
policy prohibiting workers from sharing written union information or wearing
union buttons.

In a company statement e-mailed Wednesday by spokesman Alan Hilowitz,
Starbucks said: "While Starbucks respects the free choice of our partners
and remains committed to complying fully with all laws governing the right
to organize collectively, we also believe firmly that our progressive,
positive work environment, coupled with our outstanding compensation and
benefits, make unions unnecessary at Starbucks."

The company contends there are no unionized Starbucks stores in the United
States, but Gross says the IWW represents "a modest-sized group" of
dues-paying members who have collectively bargained for certain job
improvements, including pay raises.

Gross refused to say precisely how many Starbucks employees belong to the
union, but said it is making progress toward organizing more workers in New
York City and beyond.

March 8, 2006 2:56 AM (1 days ago)

SEATTLE - Starbucks Corp. said Tuesday it has settled an unfair labor
practice complaint brought by the Industrial Workers of the World, alleging
anti-union tactics at three stores in New York.

The IWW filed the complaint with the National Labor Relations Board over its
efforts at unionizing baristas at three Starbucks stores in Manhattan.

Starbucks admitted no wrongdoing, but agreed to offer two workers their jobs
back and to pay nearly $2,000 to several employees.

"Today's informal settlement resolves all of the IWW's charges without the
need for a long and expensive hearing," company spokeswoman Audrey Lincoff

Saturday, March 04, 2006

SouthKorea: Railway workers on strike arrested

Saturday, March 04 2006

Walkout loses steam on third day as more unionists back on job Railway workers on strike arrested

About 230 railway workers were arrested and thousands more suspended from their jobs yesterday as the railway workers' union extended its strike to a third day crippling passenger and cargo transport across the country.

Their walkout showed signs of losing strength as a quarter of strikers returned to work in the face of threatened dismissal and an umbrella labor group also halted its separate general strike.

In its first action since the strike began on Wednesday, police took 231 strikers into custody from raids carried out on six sites. Investigators also seized documents and computer files from three offices of the Korean Railway Workers' Union in Seoul.

The strike had been declared illegal by the government on Tuesday when it imposed emergency arbitration, under which all collective actions are banned for a 15 day cooling off period.

Putting even more pressure on the strikers, the state run Korea Railroad Corp. suspended the jobs of 2,244 workers who refused to return to work.

KORAIL President Lee Chul yesterday told reporters "we will continue to meet the labor union, but there will be neither official nor unofficial negotiations."

The government reiterated its tough stance as Kim Chang ho, head of the Government Information Agency, said it was considering "all possible measures" to deal with the illegal strike.

About half of the 25,510 member union went on strike Wednesday, demanding, among other things, the reinstatement of former employees sacked for their involvement in previous illegal strikes.

The Ministry of Construction and Transportation said nearly 4,000, or 30 percent, of the strikers returned to duty yesterday afternoon. About 22.8 percent of striking train drivers resumed work yesterday, a jump from 4 percent the day before.

Their return somewhat improved transport services but citizens continued to suffer from inconveniences as only 45 percent of railway operations was back to normal, according to the company.

The union leaders reacted angrily saying the stern measures by the government and management will only aggravate the situation. They warned of a prolonged struggle.

The union, however, lost support from its powerful alliance. The nation's second largest labor umbrella group declared a halt to its three day general strike after the National Assembly postponed acting on controversial bills on nonregular workers on Thursday.

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions said that their protest could be resumed if lawmakers attempt to pass the bills in the April extraordinary parliamentary session.

Fears about further disruption of cargo movements were heightened as the nationwide truckers' union threatened to step up action from next Monday. They are bargaining with cargo companies over fees and will decide tomorrow whether or not to go on strike, it said.


By Jin Hyun joo