Thursday, December 13, 2012

[olympiaworkers] Fired workers taken to court for blogging about work conditions

Dec. 11, 2012

Solidarity with the Workers of Natais popcorn factory in France! Exposed
to hazardous substances, forced to work on precarious conditions, the
workers tried to fight back. On Thursday, two former employees will be in
court for supposedly "defaming" their former employer!

On Thursday, December 13, 2012, former workers from the Natais popcorn
factory in Bézéril, France will go to trial for supposed „defamation" of
their ex-employer, for talking about their working conditions on a blog.

Among the problems the workers faced was exposure to Diacetyl. This
chemical can cause bronchitis obliterans, also known as „popcorn workers'
lung", or other serious respiratory illnesses. Diacetyl is a component of
the artificial butter flavor used in microwave popcorn. Bronchitis
obliterans is irreversible and can lead to death.

The workers at Natais popcorn factory are not even given masks to protect
themselves from the vapors. They also must work in extreme heat. Around
80% of the people at the factory are temporary workers. The work is hard,
people are sometimes forced to work on Sundays, the pay is bad.

There was even a strike at the factory. A year-end bonus was won, but then
the union called off the strike. Some workers however tried to keep
fighting. For trying to speak out against these conditions, a case was
brought against 2 of the strikers, now former workers of the company.

We call on comrades around the world to support this case by sending an
email to the company.

Sample text: We demand an end to the repression of Natais workers and
support their struggle for safer working conditions and job security. (Add
whatever you like to text.)

You can also BCC or forward your mail to, the local union
in Gers which has been involved.

Some leaflets and more information in different languages is available

Monday, December 03, 2012

[olympiaworkers] Los Angeles port strike triggers fears, lobbying by businesses

(Reuters) - A national coalition of U.S. business groups is urging an end
to a strike at the twin California ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach
amid fears that a prolonged stand-off will cost the American economy many
billions of dollars, and could even spread to the east coast.

Trade groups led by the National Retail Federation have sent letters to
U.S. President Barack Obama and leading members of Congress asking them to
intervene and help end the strike at America's two busiest container
harbor facilities. Those industry groups say the strike, which entered its
sixth day on Sunday, is already costing $1 billion a day.

The labor dispute has been triggered by 500 clerical workers at the ports,
members of the relatively small Office of Clerical Union Workers. Their
industrial action and clout has been significantly strengthened because
some 10,000 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union
have supported them, refusing to cross the clerical workers' picket lines.

Their action has effectively shut down 10 of the two ports' combined 14
container terminals. Four other container terminals have remained opened,
along with facilities for handling break-bulk cargo such as raw steel and
tanker traffic.

Industry groups say they have fresh memories of a 10-day lockout at West
Coast ports in 2002. They estimate that dispute cost the U.S. economy $1
billion a day and that it took six months before the supply chains fully

Groups are also warily monitoring an ongoing labor dispute between the
International Longshoremen's Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance
which could affect ports from Maine to Texas.

The employment contract between the two groups expired at the end of
September without a new agreement. The contract was temporarily extended
for 90 days, until the end of this year. A federal mediator has stepped in
to oversee negotiations to try an avert a strike that would hit at least
14 ports along the East and Gulf coasts.

"Our members are very nervous and very upset about the impact of the (Los
Angeles) strike on their businesses," said Jonathan Gold, vice president
of supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation.

"We have had a lot of feedback. They have very fresh memories of what
happened in 2002 and what is happening on the east coast."

Gold said his organization has been working with groups including the
American Apparel and Footwear Association, the Retail Industry Leaders
Industry Association and the Harbor Truckers Association to pressure
lawmakers in Washington to end the stand-off.

The NRF sent a letter to Obama last week asking him to intervene. Barbara
Boxer and Diane Feinstein, California's two Democratic senators, have also
urged both sides to resolve the dispute.

Negotiations ran late into Saturday and continued Sunday. The clerks had
been without a contract for more than two years when labor talks with
management broke off on Monday. The chief stumbling block has been the
future of union representation for jobs that are lost through retirement.

ILWU leaders are demanding that jobs traditionally performed by their
members remain classified as union work and subject to the union's
contract terms, even after individuals holding those jobs retire. They
accuse the management of seeking to outsource union clerical jobs to
overseas workers paid far less in wages and benefits.

The Port of Los Angeles, the nation's busiest container harbor facility,
and second-ranked Long Beach together handled more than $400 billion in
goods arriving or leaving the West Coast by ship, L.A. port spokesman
Philip Sanfield said.