Longshore Workers Walk off the job

ILWU logo.

ILWU logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ILWU members walk out in Oakland

 West Coast Longshore workers have been without a union contract since July. Now management is complaining that the workers are slowing down on the job.

Dockworkers at Los Angeles-Long Beach and Seattle-Tacoma picked up their productivity a bit this weekend, but the situation turned bad in Oakland when members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union walked off their jobs for three consecutive shifts.

U.S. retailers appealed to President Barack Obama [1] to intervene in contract negotiations between West Coast dockworkers and maritime companies after a work slowdown spread to the nation’s largest container hub ahead of the holiday shopping season [2]. Continue reading

Maryland Unions Hit Jobs Jackpot with New Casinos

by Bruce Vail

An artist's rendition of the Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore, one of several gambling sites making Maryland's billion-dollar casino industry a boon for local labor. (Gamblegal / Wikimedia Commons)

An artist’s rendition of the Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore, one of several gambling sites making Maryland’s billion-dollar casino industry a boon for local labor. (Gamblegal / Wikimedia Commons)

Labor unions in the Washington, D.C. area got an early Christmas present December 20, when Maryland state officials announced their approval of a plan to build a massive MGM Resorts International casino complex just a few miles from the nation’s Capitol building.

The news comes as a welcome sign of organized labor’s vitality in Maryland, which has seen falling union membership during the last decade. As of 2012, unions represented just 12.3 percent of Maryland jobholders—a decrease of 23,000 workers from the previous year.

One of Maryland labor’s responses to this challenge has been to lobby on behalf of expanded gambling long before casino construction ever takes place, usually in return for a mutually beneficial “labor peace agreement.” In the case of MGM Resorts, the gambling powerhouse received its approval from the Maryland Video Lottery Facility Location Commission with the help of an ad-hoc coalition of local labor unions, says John Boardman, an officer of D.C.-based Unite Here Local 25. He estimates that the $925 million project will generate about 2,000 temporary construction jobs and 4,000 permanent ones. Continue reading

Maryland’s Keystone Pipeline Lite Reignites Green vs. Blue Fight

By Bruce Vail

Fracking operation in ND. Photo  wikipedia creative commons

Fracking operation in ND. Photo wikipedia creative commons

BALTIMORE—The continuing drama of organized labor’s conflict with the environmental movement, especially notable in the controversy surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline project, is readying for another round as a coalition of green groups launches a campaign to stop the proposed construction of a Maryland natural gas export terminal linked to increased fracking in the region.

The fight in Maryland was put into motion last year, when Richmond, Va.-based energy giant Dominion Resources Inc. suggested converting its existing liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal at Cove Point in Lusby, Md., to a much larger export terminal.  According to Dominion, the rapid expansion of natural gas production inside the United States in recent years has all but eliminated the need to import LNG—by contrast, market demand to export the gas to places like India and Japan is expected to rise dramatically.

Dominion therefore proposed spending some $3.8 billion to modify the Cove Point terminal with construction of a new liquefaction plant, electricity-generating station and related facilities to handle the LNG exports. The U.S. Department of Energy gave its qualified approval for the project last month. Continue reading

The Obama Jobs speech

WASHINGTON - AUGUST 31:  AFL-CIO Secretary-Tre...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

The President took an important and necessary step tonight: he started a serious national conversation about how to solve our jobs crisis.  He showed working people that he is willing to go to the mat to create new jobs on a substantial scale.  Tonight’s speech should energize the nation to come together, work hard and get serious about jobs.

As the President explained, we can no longer delay putting Americans back to work and rebuilding our nation’s schools, roads, bridges, transit, ports, rail, communications and energy systems.  And we need to help state and local governments avoid layoffs that are dragging down the economy—rejecting the pernicious myth that the only way to address Wall Street’s crisis is to punish firefighters, teachers and others who perform critical public services.

We call on Congress to act and look forward to working with the President and Congress on all elements of this proposal. Continue reading